There’s no night like the first night of tour, and the excitement for it was palpable at The Van Buren in downtown Phoenix, where fans made their way to see Cannons and the return of The Knocks.
Cannons are on a hot streak after their 2020 song “Fire For You” went viral during lockdown and appeared in an episode of Netflix’s Never Have I Ever — the venue was packed well before they were due to begin. All the better, because fans got to see vocalist Michelle Joy saunter on stage in a fabulous silver dress that matched the disco ball above her.
As the trio played through tracks from 2019’s Shadows and this year’s Fever Dream, the crowd was particularly vocal, whooping and cheering throughout songs. The encouragement put Joy at ease, and she was dancing by the time they launched into “Bad Dream.”
Of course, the early tour jitters are normal, but Cannons have already proven they can bounce back stronger. As Joy tells it, their last show before the world shut down was at a “tiny” club in L.A., and their first show back was Lollapalooza. “A lot changed for us during quarantine,” Joy recalled, speaking to a distinct before and after their music hit the mainstream. It was the perfect intro to “Hurricane”. Another COVID-era change? They perfected their cover of “Golden” and had it requested enough on tour that it’s now part of the setlist.
Closing with their smash hit, Cannons’ dreamy night-drive soundscapes gave way to the funky beats of The Knocks. “You like disco?” James Patterson asked in lieu of an intro. From the jump, he and Ben Ruttner were clearly elated to be back on stage after four years without touring. (They might have been having more fun than the crowd, to be honest.)
The beauty of The Knocks’ catalog is their collaborators ranging from indie to hip hop to pop to dance artists, so there’s something for everyone. You’d be hard pressed to name another artist who’s worked with Foster the People and ODESZA and Idris Elba and Method Man, just to name a few. Even their album from this past spring, HISTORY, is full of recognizable names.
Though the duo leaned heavily on HISTORY for their setlist (“Bodies” and “R U HIGH” were personal favorites), they showed plenty of love for older cuts. “House Party” was especially fun and turned into a back-and-forth storytelling — “Said I’m always on a late one” “True” — with a mini choreographed dance and a request to let them know if anyone was throwing a house party that night.
Fitting, because it did feel like two friends DJing a house party instead of a sanctioned venue. The general admission area had turned into a dance floor, and the room was bathed in a rainbow of lights. Meanwhile, Patterson assured everyone, “You guys can do whatever you want as long as you’re having fun.” It’s no wonder why we lost track of time, the clock approaching midnight with the function still in full swing. We were on a late one, and we can’t wait for the next one.
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Story and photos by Taylor Knauf