Free at Noon Flashback: Phosphorescent lives up to their name at World Cafe Live - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Phosphorescent at WXPN’s Free At Noon Concert | photo by Taylor Johnson for WXPN

Merriam Webster dictionary defines phosphorescence as “luminescence that is caused by the absorption of radiations (such as light or electrons) and continues for a noticeable time after these radiations have stopped.” Minus the more science-y parts of that, one can only assume that Phosphorescent is going for a similar vibe with their music. Though the hazy glow that envelops the band during their live set is technically thanks to the lighting crew, their soft and airy songs are lush and drawn-out, winding on and on in a way that breathes life into their mouthful of a name.

The project of singer-songwriter Matthew Houck, Phosphorescent has been around for awhile, debuting in 2003 with A Hundred Times or More. The past fifteen years have seen the project evolve quite a bit, and until recently they’d been taking a break following the wild success of their last album, 2013’s Muchacho. That long wait made Phosphorescent’s return to the public ears highly anticipated, and based on the energy of today’s Free at Noon crowd — the members of which spanned many demographics and included more than a few kids on shoulders — no one had forgotten the band in their absence.

Phosphorescent’s new album C’est La Vie was released this fall, and they brought many of the new songs to today’s sold-out performance. “We were sound asleep until very recently,” said Houck by way of introduction, but the band’s 50-minute set was anything but sleepy. Opening with the new album’s lead single, “New Birth In New England,” and played several more off the new album, including “Christmas Down Under” and “My Beautiful Boy.” The set’s showstopping moment came near the end with the instantly recognizable “Song for Zula,” which was met with the enthusiasm of an audience that was overjoyed to hear from an old favorite.

Phosphorescent plays the TLA later tonight with Liz Cooper & The Stampede; it’s their last stop on a lengthy tour and some tickets are still available; their next local appearance after that is at the 2019 Firefly Festival. Find more information on the XPN Concert Calendar and see photos from today’s set below.

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