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Phosphorescent Plays to a Packed Crowd at the El Rey

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Phosphorescent’s breakout 2013 album Muchacho is an atmospheric gem of folk rock, with flowing piano keys and lush string arrangements as far as the ear can hear.

Leader Matthew Houck expertly recreated that magic this week at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles.  Drawing heavily from Muchacho, Houck and his band had the audience swaying back and forth with his mesmerizing voice and head-nodding grooves.

Phosphorescent began with “The Quotidian Beasts” and “Terror in the Canyons,” showing that the band could get their jam on, while the standout track “Song for Zula” was luxuriously filled with the aforementioned synthesized strings and an addictive drum sample that caused many a couple in the crowd to get closer.

“Zula” was followed by “Ride On/Right On,” a danceable number that elicited hand claps as Houck whooped and yelped with each line.

Depending on how one views Houck’s setlist, he either came out for two encores or had a little break in the middle.  But after spending a few minutes backstage, he came back out to perform a few songs solo.

That grouping included a nod to John Prine with “Far From Me” and an amazing version of Phosphorescent’s “Wolves, which devolved into a noisy whirlwind of looped guitars and vocals.

Houck was rejoined by the band for the night’s final two offerings, “At Death, A Proclamation” and “Los Angeles,” a tip of the cowboy hat to the enthusiastic L.A. fans.

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