Being a huge fan of Daft Punk, I was stoked to see that Phoenix was coming to SF for the Spectrum Festival (author’s note: guitarist Laurent Brancowitz was in the group Darlin’ with Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter,who, after being described as a “bunch of daft punk” by a reviewer went on to start Daft Punk while Brancowitz joined forces with Phoenix).  I knew many of the other artists in the lineup, but it was Phoenix that brought me, a half dozen of my friends, and many others to the show.  As fate would have it, lead singer Thomas Mars contracted a viral infection affecting his vocals and Phoenix dropped out of the lineup hours before the show.

Never one to let my parade be rained upon, I pushed forward with fervor…as did the now closer Boyz Noize, who brought the house down with rockstar spinning and hours of pounding fists with the most ardent of fans amidst his techno wizardry.

The day was met with the somber note of Phoenix’s absence, only to be followed by my entry to the Regency around 9pm, which revealed a lackluster turnout.  The organizers not only had to battle a missing headliner, but also had to compete with the Pride Parade festivities happening to fall on the same date.  Despite the slim pickens early on, those present were very evidently enjoying themselves and the staff were great about dealing with ticket issues.

I was able to catch some of the earlier sets and found myself not disappointed in the slightest.  Having seen local band of misfits Gooferman only a month prior in Oakland, I was really looking forward to exposing my comrades to their insanely entertaining show.  And that’s exactly what it is.  Throw together some circus music, funk, a bit of rock, a dash of electropop, and their signature ingredient, 100% clown attire (makeup, wigs, jester’s hats, ginormous shoes – the whole nine yards), and you’ve got Gooferman.  I’m always worried about seeing a band a second time when the first time blew me away, because a lot of groups out there don’t have that kind of consistency.  My fears were dispelled on the first note.  Picture a clown troupe from Oakland and the music that would accompany them; not exactly your 2 year old’s scene, but for an adult crowd they are uh-fawkin’-mazing.  It was even more exciting because they took the upstairs stage that literally felt like a three-ringed circus.

I lost a couple of quarts of sweat during their set so I had to replenish my fluids and give my body a breather.  Mind you I wasn’t the smartest about replenishing my fluids as the replacement fluid I selected ended up being a few Stellas.

I made my way back to the main stage area to catch a few more acts there and see how the crowd had grown.  Grown it had.  There was still plenty of breathing room, but with all the extenuating circumstances, the people who hung around were diehard.

It was my first time seeing MoPo (Motion Potion), who has garnered significant praise for some of his mashups (a specialty of our Bay Area scene), and he was undoubtedly a man of the people.  He knew his job was not to force the crowd into one sound environment or another, but instead to let us lead the way and then nudge us with his professional aural recommendations.

Following was Amazing Baby, friends with likes of MGMT and coming out of the growing Brooklyn scene.  I did my pre-show listening and read up on the guys a bit, and was a little surprised at some of the mixed reviews.  Its inevitable – once a city starts to have a “scene”, the detractors tend to follow in droves.  For my tastes, Amazing Baby was right on point.  They can be described as the intersection of art rock and psychedelia, but doing their damnedest to keep the rock part alive.  If you’re making an Amazing baby cocktail you’d throw in two parts whiskey, one part absinthe, and two semesters of art school.

As the hours passed I’d almost forgotten that Boyz Noize was about to take the stage.  Alex Ridha (aka Boyz Noize) had some big shoes to fill with his genre being so distant from Phoenix.  Like a phoenix from the ashes, the evening rose to the level at which I have stories to tell grandchildren, should they ever exist.

To fill in the time Boyz played a bit of a marathon set, providing me with my cardio workout for the next week or so.  It started off in standard fashion, sweet lighting, sick beats, and a gang of sweat-drenched concertgoers screaming and dancing.  In light of the recent passing of the King of Pop, Boyz brought out some remixes he put together back in ’03 to pay homage to MJ.  We were all moved – whether it was moved to dance or moved to reminisce or both, we were all moved.

This being said, the best was yet to come.  As his set carried on, I think he realized that he needed to step it up a notch.  And indeed he did.  It all came together in a single moment when Mr. Ridha made a call to crowd to join him onstage.  Before he even finished his sentence there were 20 people clambering up to see him face to face, and soon that number grew to 40 or 50.  Had there been a party-poopin’ soul in the crowd, they could’ve easily stepped on a surge protector or pulled a plug, but we were in this together and nobody wanted to ruin the good time.

There are many skilled DJs out there, but what I saw from Boyz Noize blew me away.  Good DJs make use of two hands to get the most out of their equipment, but great DJ’s show you they can do it with one.  Boyz was pounding fists the entire time while playing some classic tracks and even revealing some new stuff.  Having some of my best friends by my side onstage, giving that look that doesn’t require words but let’s you know that this is literally unforgettable no matter what you’ve ingested, and losing myself in not only the music, but the people – that’s when I knew that despite Phoenix’s absence I would take this show with me on the proverbial ride into the sunset.