A while later, I have a working phoenix build that's using both gtk2 and xft2. Rocking. Obligatory screenshot (warning: it's not small 😉 And although it's not quite as convenient at first glance as the smart bookmarks available in galeon, the keyword based bookmarks in phoenix (and I'm guessing mainline mozilla too?) are probably just as good for my purposes. Although I think that it's perfectly logical to extend them such that if the keyword bookmark is in a toolbar, it has a text entry associated with it that then gets substituted into %s (and therefore get galeon's smart bookmarks)
I might have to spend some time this weekend trying to sanely package phoenix as a subpackage of our mozilla builds… not quite sure how really doable it'll be, though.