Part of me was nervous as my friends and I entered the First Avenue main room, but most of me was excited. Excited to share what I recall being an undeniable, smile-inducing good time with Phil Cook on stage, nervous that the Phil Cook magic may have only existed at the (mostly) sunny Eaux Claires Music Festival.
Phil Cook’s solo music feels familiar. There are lots of people who have made, are making, and will make this type of music in the future, but the ever-present smile on his face and the mood that came with it at Eaux Claires set him apart.
That isn’t to say Phil isn’t a talented musician. His resume speaks for itself (see: Megafaun, DeYarmond Edison, Akron/Family), but his first solo effort isn’t freak-folk, it isn’t about wowing you with brave new ideas as much as it is about having a good time as a community of music appreciators. In that way, Phil was the epitome of the inaugural Eaux Claires experience.
I am happy to report that sense of community carried over to his First Avenue performance. It became clear that no matter how many times Phil plays these songs, there’s always going to be an unstoppable, genuine joy radiating from the stage. It’s electric. If you weren’t a fan of Phil Cook going into that night, you became one. If his jangling feel-good songs and sing-alongs wasn’t enough to win you over, his authentic charm nudged you over the edge.
Phil Cook now exists among a mortal few that I will always strongly recommend you go see live, any chance you get.