New York rock radio station 109.1 WRXP gave its listeners a good reason to be jolly on Wednesday night when it brought Phoenix, Passion Pit, Jack's Mannequin and Manchester Orchestra to Manhattan's Hammerstein Ballroom for its second annual Holiday Extravaganza, hosted by DJ and former MTV personality Matt Pinfield.
Christmas tress flanked the stage as each band filled the cavernous venue with joyful noise that kept the sold-out crowd of 2,500 on its feet for most of the five-hour show. After Manchester Orchestra's set of melodic pop-rock, Jack's Mannequin stormed the stage with its impressive assortment of soaring, piano-driven tunes. Andrew McMahon tickled his ivories with a passion and ferocity worthy of Chris Martin.
Boston's Passion Pit upped the energy levels with its spunky, nuevo-disco jams, punctuated by singer Michael Angelakos' unwavering falsetto. The band's buoyant tunes, such as "Sleepyhead" and "The Reeling," set the stage for the main event. Phoenix capped the night off with a tight, punchy set of dance-rock tunes that drew heavily on their 2009 album "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix." The band charged up the crowd with infectious anthems like "Lisztomania," "Sometimes in a Fall," and "1901." Frontman Thomas Mars often ventured into the crowd to get personal with the fans against the barricades.
Though always on point, the group seemed to be in an incredibly good mood during the gig -- which probably had something to do with the fact that they'd just discovered that "Wolfgang" had been nominated for a Best Alternative Album Grammy before the set, which Pinfield announced to the band backstage prior to their set.
Part two of Matt Pinfield's Holiday Extravaganza commences on Sunday (Dec. 6) and features David Gray, Pete Yorn and Company of Thieves on center stage.