PHOX to headline the Iron Horse Feb. 17

By Jack Nichols


PHOX is bringing its unique indie-pop sound to the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton on Tuesday, Feb. 17. Celebrating its eponymous debut album, released Jun. 24, the group recently kicked off a nationwide tour.

PHOX hails from Baraboo, Wisconsin, a small town known for the Ringling Brothers circus and its frigid winters. To escape the stark reality of their northern abode, the group of six friends – Zach Johnston, Monica Martin, Davey Roberts, Matteo Roberts, Jason Krunnfusz and Matthew Holmen – turned to creating music in 2011.

Described as a mix between alternative rock and indie folk, PHOX is an eclectic group, mixing a number of different genres into its sound. The band took the light-hearted folk music of modern indie bands like The Head and the Heart and The Lumineers, and created its own distinctive sound.

PHOX joined the music scene at the height of a wave of mainstream success for indie rock. Following the pathways paved by successful bands like Mumford and Sons, Vampire Weekend and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, PHOX took a new approach and attempted to combine different sounds from various artists. PHOX takes the popular elements of modern indie folk-rock and merges it with elements of psychedelic rock, soul and pop. This combination produces a diverse sound, as exemplified in PHOX’s first self-titled album.

“PHOX” received a positive reception upon its release. With above average ratings from Metacritic and The New York Times, the debut album proved to be a wildly successful start for the Wisconsin band. Due to this encouraging response and successful performances at South by Southwest and Lollapalooza, as well as opening performances for both Blitzen Trapper and The Lumineers, PHOX has become a commonplace name within the indie world.

With only one full album in its pocket, it is rare to see such a new band garner such a high level of support and following. If PHOX continues to produce music of the same quality or better than its first release, the band has a chance to be at the forefront of the indie scene within the next few years.

Having played relatively few concerts, PHOX has not made a name for itself as a live band quite yet. However, it has received outstanding ratings for the concerts it’s have played. Critics from Mezzic describe it as a quirky group that acts “on stage, like a family reunited each year around a mic; that family of crazy uncles and aunts you want to bring your new girlfriend or boyfriend to meet, purely to leave a lasting impression of how fun in its purest sense your family can be.” Toting its unique music with a quirky and definitive performance style seems like a promising combination for a memorable concert.

PHOX is looking to expand its fan base and spread its name in 2015 with its first major tour.

This concert is perfect for any music listener that is a fan of the light and airy style that bands like The Head and the Heart, The Lumineers and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros have showcased throughout their respective careers.

This group of quirky performers will play in Northampton on Feb. 17 at the Iron Horse at 7 p.m. Tickets are selling for $15 online or $18 at the door.

Jack Nichols can be reached at [email protected].