Friday, October 16th, 2016 was a special night. We welcomed PHOX, one of indie’s most exciting new bands, to Paradigm Coffee and Music to kick off another season of The Étude Sessions. As a special treat, Étude Sessions alumna and folk songstress from Minneapolis Brianna Lane set the stage for a night of unforgettable music.
Right from the start, there was a magical feeling in the room. A line had gathered outside of the door before the doors were set to open at 7 and folks seemed giddy yet relaxed when entering and producing their tickets. Beer and wine provided by the 8th St. Ale Haus was flowing as the room filled with Étude Sessions supporters. It was a sold-out crowd; there were rows of chairs set up around the stage, then a few tables, that the standing folks gathered behind and between stretching almost to the back door.
It was PHOX’s first time on the Paradigm stage, yet they are seasoned performers, having sold out the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee recently, played Coachella music festival, and even appeared as musical guest on TBS late-night’s Conan. The moment they started to play, Monica Martin’s rich voice and the lovely rhythms and harmonies of the band filled Paradigm to the rafters. All eyes were on the stage, hanging on every note.
The band communicated with the audience, reading their the attentiveness and playing to it. At one point, Monica found the starlight dimmer at the rear of the stage and turned the lights down to applause. In between songs, Monica Martin and the five other members of PHOX, Matt Holmen, Jason Krunnfusz, Davey Roberts and Matteo Roberts, shared banter ranging from the “important questions” about creativity Étude Studios Journalism Intern, Sarah Williams, asked in an exclusive interview prior to the show to a lighthearted ode to delicious Paradigm sandwiches.
For the second encore, Monica excitedly asked the band, offstage, if a certain song was OK to play and two members gathered around her microphone for an a cappella number. She had warned that the song hadn’t even been rehearsed yet, but it was flawless. The audience was silent, anxious to hear this new material. They played a total of three well-received encores, including a solo Monica on the ukulele, but still the band hung around for much longer, chatting, signing posters and having an impromptu jam session on stage. Much of the audience stayed as well and looked on, danced along or mingled about with the band.
We are so thankful for PHOX for sharing with us their tunes whether unrehearsed or tried and true. The intimate venue of Paradigm delivered the lush sound and excitement of seeing a talented band in a large concert hall, but with the opportunity to listen closely, feeling connected to the band and the music as our audience clearly did.
We couldn’t have asked for a better way to begin the season than with PHOX at Paradigm. The Étude Sessions will be back at Paradigm Coffee and Music with the Americana stylings of Hayward Williams on December 18th and an evening of live jazz with the Dave Stoler Trio on January 15th. Until then, we’ll keep floating on this cloud of awe and joy until the Avett Brothers join us for another sold-out show on November 8th at the Stefanie H. Weill Center. We hope you will, too.