Going into Phillip Phillips this past Saturday, I thought I knew what to expect, and to be honest, I wasn’t particularly excited. Those around me, such as Senior John Hewson, echoed my uninformed ambivalence, saying, “All I know is he sounds like Mumford and Sons.”
As I soon found out, though Phillips’ melodies evoke the same caravan-rides- across-rolling-prairies imagery of other Mumfordian acts, his brighter, boy-next- -door sound, not to mention his exceptional accompaniment, help him carve an interesting name for himself in this increasingly tired genre.
As a group of musicians, Phillips and his band proved themselves to be more than proficient, but as a performer and entertainer, Phillips lacked polish. I’m not an avid concert patron, but many artists who drink before performing hide it with more knowing grace than Phillips did.
Though his vocal resonance and instrumental skills didn’t suffer from his altered state, his diction and his ability to form a strong connection with his audience certainly did, and in such an intimate (though well lit) setting as The Roost, this was something of a problem.
While there were certainly several noteworthy moments throughout the band’s setlist, the real glowing moments of Phillips’ performance came during his encore, when he performed two inspired covers of Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” and Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” but by that point in the show, a good portion of the crowd had already left the venue. Phillips’ star-making single “Home” was enough to attract a decent audience to the event, but his stage presence wasn’t enough to keep them all begging for more.
This is unfortunate, because honestly, Phillips and his band were really good. Though his cellist performed by far the most athletic and impressive musical feats of the night, no member of the band was lackluster, and all worked harmoniously together to create some toe-tapping, crowd-pleasing tunes. From what I could tell, Phillips brought the same crisp sound that you could have heard on his debut album to his performance in the Roost, and while in this auto-tune ravaged age of pop music, this fact would ordinarily merit praise, it would have been more impres- sive, and more distinctly live, if Phillips was able to give a really raw performance for us that night.
All of this said, it is clear that Phillips is merely at the starting point in his career, and has a long way to go before he can truly buck the label of “That American Idol winner who sounds like Mumford and Sons.”
As in all UPC entertainment events, reception was mixed, but for the most part positive. Concert patron and Sophomore John Williamson enjoyed the concert greatly. He enjoyed the fact that “a lot of diverse groups of people” had come out to see the show, but he felt that the coat situation could be improved for next time.” The Roost has seen some big shows in the past year, not the least of which were State Radio in the Fall and UPC’s own Da- kaboom last weekend, and although Phillip Phillips didn’t have the energy and stage presence to get his crowd on his own wave- length, it is clear that he has future in the music industry. I look forward to hearing what he (not to mention UPC) brings us next.