Touring Report: Phosphorescent

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The musician Matthew Houck, and his band, Phosphorescent, walks the line between mainstream country and indie rock. As the indie website, Pitchfork, wrote yesterday, “The Brooklyn-via-Alabama country-rock crew Phosphorescent have a style broad enough to play both [Stagecoach and Coachella festivals].”

After a busy touring schedule last year, Phosphorescent will take a break before hitting Stagecoach and Coachella, both in April in Indio, California.

While Phosphorescent’s vintage country rock goes down smooth with some of the artists playing Stagecoach, such as Loretta Lynn and Wanda Jackson, two of country’s grand dames, it would seem at odds next to the slicker styles of Kenny Chesney or Rascal Flatts.

Phil Waldorf, the co-founder of the label Dead Oceans, which has released three Phosphorescent albums since 2007, says the band doesn’t necessarily differentiate between genres.

Once, when asked how Phosphorescent fits in with what a journalist in Europe called “the new folk revival” of bands like Fleet Foxes and Mumford & Sons, Waldorf says Houck was completely “flummoxed.” “Look, we just make records,” Waldorf recalls Houck telling the journalist.

Waldorf says part of the key to Phosphorescent’s ability to straggle the line between genres and audiences has been a strong focus and presence in Europe. Waldorf says audiences in the U.S. get more bogged down by genres.

“In the States, Americana has a very specific connotation,” says Waldof. “Whereas in Europe and the UK, it’s not a bad word. I see ‘Americana’ in a review in America and I wince a little because I worry that there’s no way you can make a band feel cool if they’re thought of as Americana. In Europe, there’s literally no distinction.”

Waldorf says Houck, under the Phosphorescent moniker, toured solo in Europe in the years before putting together the core band of Jesse Anderson Ainslie, Scott Stapleton, Jeff Bailey, Chris Marine, and sometimes Austin, Texas-based pedal steel guitarist Ricky Ray Jackson.

Over time the band has built a following in European markets, though Waldorf says that regional markets there are less connected than in the U.S., using the example that having a strong draw in Amsterdam may have very little effect on a show in Dusseldorf, just 90 minutes away. “You gotta play those markets over and over. Each of them are distinct,” he says.

If things have been a slow build for Phosphorescent, it’s been worth it. After a U.S. tour supporting David Gray last year, the band went to Europe, then toured the States, then made their network television debut on the Late Show With David Letterman in December. As if all that weren’t enough, look for Houck and co. on the festival circuit and in clubs in the U.S. and Europe again this spring and summer (full dates below).

04/09 Buffalo, NY- Mohawk Place

04/10 Toronto, ON- Lee’s Palace

04/11 Chicago, IL- Lincoln Hall

04/12 Lawrence, KS- Jackpot Saloon

04/13 Denver, CO- Larimer Lounge

04/14 Salt Lake City, UT- Urban Lounge

04/16 Indio, CA- Coachella Music Festival

04/21 Portland, OR- Mission Theatre

04/22 Seattle, WA- The Tractor Tavern

04/23 Kennewick, WA- The Red Room

04/24 Vancouver, BC- Media Club

04/28 San Francisco, CA- The Independent

04/30 Indio, CA- Stagecoach Music Festival

05/04 Dallas, TX- The Loft

05/05 Austin, TX- The Parish

05/06 Houston, TX- Warehouse Live

05/08 Atlanta, GA- Masquerade

05/11 Brooklyn, NY- Brooklyn Bowl

05/23 Koln, Germany- Studio 672

05/24 Hamburg, Germany-Beatlemania

05/25 Berlin, Germany- Magnet

05/26 Munich, Germany- 59 to 1

05/28 Barcelona, Spain- Primavera Sound Festival

05/30 Bristol, UK- Thekla

05/31 Manchester, UK- Deaf Institute

06/02 Dublin, Ireland- The Workman’s Club

06/03 Glasgow, Scotland- Stereo Glasgow

06/04 Leeds, UK- Brudenell Social Club

06/05 Norwich, UK- The Arts Centre

06/07 London, UK- Heaven

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