It was a school night to remember when international superstars Phoenix performed a spectacular show in the gym at L.C. Anderson High School in Austin, Texas. Following a main-stage set at the Austin City Limits Festival the day before, the French band played for 800 invited guests – including several hundred students – for an episode of the public television series Live from the Artists Den. They blasted through 16 songs, including such hits as “Lisztomania” and “If I Ever Feel Better” and selections from their most recent album, Bankrupt!, before singer Thomas Mars invited the audience to join them on stage at the home of the Trojans for thrilling, chaotic renditions of “1901” and “Rome.”
Singer Thomas Mars invited the audience to join them on stage at the home of the Trojans for thrilling, chaotic renditions of “1901” and “Rome.”
Behind the Den
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The origins of French rock band Phoenix go back to the childhoods of lead singer Thomas Mars, bassist Deck d’Arcy, and guitarist Christian Mazzalai, who grew up playing music together as schoolmates in the Parisian suburb of Versailles. The group officially took the name “Phoenix” when Mazzalai’s older brother, Laurent Brancowitz, joined in 1997. After years of work and a self-released EP, the band released its debut album, United, in 2000. Its follow-up, 2004’s Alphabetical, and 2006’s It’s Never Been Like That continued to raise Phoenix’s profile, but it wasn’t until the band’s fourth album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, that the band achieved widespread mainstream success. The album won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album and landed on “Best of the Year” lists in Rolling Stone, Time, Pitchfork, and Spin. In 2013, the band’s fifth album, Bankrupt!, was released and debuted at the Number Four spot on the Billboard 200 charts. In 2017 the band released their sixth studio album Ti Amo.
L. C. Anderson High School (then known as E. H. Anderson High School) opened in 1907 as Austin’s first school for African-American students. Named after local black educator Laurine Cecil Anderson, the high school was home to one of the most successful football programs in the state. The Anderson Yellow Jackets won four state championships before the school was forced closed in 1971 as part of desegregation. The newly-integrated Anderson High School opened in 1973 at its current location with a new mascot (the Trojans), new school colors (blue and gold), and a brand new campus. Consistently recognized for its strong academics by such publications as Newsweek and The Washington Post, Anderson has become one of the top high schools in the nation. Photography courtesy of Glen Brown for Artists Den Entertainment.