Matthew Houck released his album Muchacho through his band Phosphorescent in 2013 to strong praise. And to close out the year, he decided to celebrate with four shows in his borough. All four, one solo and three with a full-band, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg had sold out one after another. Julianna Barwick was recruited later on to be the opener. Poised behind her keyboards on the darkened stage, Barwick’s ethereal soundscapes enveloped people as they entered. Then after a stage change in which multitudes of flowers, electric tealights and incense sticks garnished the stage, Phosphorescent was ready to perform.
The band’s classic Americana sound, on songs like “Joe Tex”, had been recast on Muchacho by a trip Houck took to Mexico so the new album beautifully occupies a more atmospheric space but still manages to revel in country-folk swells. Houck’s great voice shone amidst the horns of “Muchacho’s Tune” and the band rollicked right on through “Ride On / Right On” a couple of highlights from the latest album. Though the venue never felt like filled up, even though the show was sold-out, the space between people allowed for no impediment to hinder the band’s crescendos from creating a coziness inside the venue and inside the audience.