Houck’s Phosphorescent Finds Spotlight’s Glow: NYC Music

As the indie folk-rock scene took off in 2000, Matthew Houck was there at the start, forming Phosphorescent in 2001, releasing their first album in 2003 and then five more, waiting for a spotlight turn.

The moment came on April 18 as he found himself headlining a sold-out Bowery Ballroom.

The Alabama-to-Brooklyn transplant and his five-piece band kicked off with the slow-building “Terror in the Canyons.” Houck painted guitar slides and vocals over languid drums and stretched-out organ notes. The tune drew cheers and calls to “turn it up!”

With the volume cranked, Houck lead the band on the sprawling “Quotidian Beasts,” one of the many standout tracks on his latest record, “Muchacho” -- itself a standout among 2013 releases so far. After a quiet start, Houck got to howling over high guitar notes that fenced with sharp-edged keyboards. The elements of frailty and strength here are echoed on the record.

The opening bass line of “Song for Zula” brought cheers again. Houck’s trembling voice, with lyrics sly and emphatic, drifts over layers of string-like synths. He released the crowd from this desolate space with the playful “Ride On/Right On.”

A set of Houck alone on stage had material that cut even deeper, including a raw version of “Wolves” from the 2007 album, “Pride.” The crowd fell silent as he built the song with looped guitar notes and earnest vocals.

Crowd Sings

He continued with the folksy “My Dove, My Lamb” and then covered Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter’s “Storms Never Last.” The band returned to close with the anthemic “Los Angeles,” a breezy and spacious number filled with infectious harmonies that had the crowd singing along.

Phosphorescent is in Europe during May. Outside of its appearance at this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival, July 19-21 at Chicago’s Union Park, his only other scheduled stateside show is in support of The Walkmen at Brooklyn’s McCarren Park on June 15. That show is in conjunction with the local Northside Festival, June 13-20 at various venues in Brooklyn.

Here’s a selection of New York-area shows in May. Please note that opening bands aren’t always listed. Shows marked (SO) are sold out, although online services such as Craigslist often have tickets.

May 2
Johnny Marr at Irving Plaza (SO)
May 3
Foals/Surfer Blood at Terminal 5
May 4
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club/Bass Drum Death at Terminal 5
May 5
Flying Lotus/Ultraista/Thundercat & Band at Terminal 5
May 6
The Breeders at Webster Hall (SO)
May 7
Brazos at Cameo Gallery
May 8
Four Tet/Jon Hopkins/Koreless at Webster Hall (SO)
May 9
James Blake/Falty DL at Terminal 5 (SO)
May 10
Downtown Music Festival -- various artists around NYC
Shout Out Louds at Webster Hall
May 11
Downtown Music Festival -- various artists around NYC
Gold Panda at Knitting Factory
May 12
Tim Hecker and Daniel Lopatin at Roulette
May 13
Phoenix/Blood Orange at Apollo Theater (SO)
May 14
Digitalism at Highline Ballroom
May 15
Foxygen at Mercury Lounge (Late Show) (SO)
May 16
Kurt Vile the Violators/Angel Olsen/Steve Gunn at Bowery
Ballroom (SO)
May 17
Yeah Yeah Yeahs/The Flaming Lips/The Darkness at Prospect Park,
Great GoogaMooga festival
May 18
Matt & Kim/Father John Misty/ Sharon Van Etten at Prospect Park,
Great GoogaMooga festival (SO)
Liars at Metropolitan Museum of Art
May 19
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings/De La Soul at Prospect Park, Great
GoogaMooga festival (SO)
Angel Olsen/Magmana/Steve Gunn at Glasslands Gallery
May 20
Portugal. The Man/Royal Bangs at Irving Plaza (SO)
May 21
Georgia Anne Muldrow & Dudley Perkins at Brooklyn Bowl
May 22
Stones Fest NYC at Bowery Ballroom (various artists)
May 23
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at Beacon Theater (SO)
May 24
Yacht/Prinzhorn Dance School/Larry Gus at Shea Stadium
May 25
DFA Records 12th Anniversary Party at Grand Prospect Hall (SO)
May 26
The Shins/Man Man at Williamsburg Park
May 27
The Monochrome Set at Bowery Electric
May 28
The Thermals/Screaming Females/Hop Along at Bowery Ballroom
May 29
Marina & the Diamonds/Charli XCX at Central Park SummerStage
May 30
Mount Kimbie/Holy Other at Bowery Ballroom
May 31
Snowden/We Barbarians at Cameo Gallery

(Jaime Widder works in sales for Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are his own.)

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