By: Mark Foxall
I traveled through time with Foxygen.
Last week Foxygen came to town and tore the roof off of The Waiting Room. Foxygen is pegged as a psychedelic rock duo from Los Angeles, consisting of lead singer Sam France and all around musical guru Jonathan Rado. But before I continue on about how the boys from California spent the evening melting faces the old fashioned way, I want to address my prior knowledge of the band and their antics.
Foxygen and I are forever bonded together; we both call ourselves foxes and are identified as such by the outside world. When I downloaded Foxygen’s second album We Are the 21st Ambassadors of Peace, the album didn’t blow me away; it played like Dylan made a surf-rock record, not bad, just not memorable. After these initial listens, Foxygen fell out of my rotation and off of my radar only to resurface in a Pitchfork article that discussed how lead singer Sam France had cursed out a crowd of hecklers during a set and stormed off stage only to return and crush it. So when I heard the rock duo was coming to the O (that’s Omaha for those of you wondering), I was intrigued, but it wasn’t a must see. However, one thing us foxes know is that you never turn your back on another fox, because as soon as you do that’s when the good shit goes down.
So day of: I buy my ticket, arrive at the venue, order something hoppy and wait. Not a sell out, but a fairly decent crowd. I’m good with this. I predict an intimate show with some trippy vocals, some quality guitar playing, and some solid ivory play. I fucked up. The first sign of trouble came when a friend of mine mentioned to me that they were traveling with a nine-person band. The second sign was when I learned this was their last tour together. The third sign was a tiki masked taped to a door, on stage, serving no purpose whatsoever. And finally, there was a blown up magazine cover of Leo DiCaprio (Romeo y Juliet Leo, not Tai Chi on yachts Leo). Throw in a giant pentagram and I was seriously contemplating what I had just bought tickets to.
Surprising answer: one of the best shows I’ve seen in years. From the second France (looking like a 70’s David Bowie) and Rado stepped on stage, they demanded the crowd’s energy. Accompanied by a guitarist, a drummer, two bassists, and three lovely ladies who spent the whole show singing harmony while simultaneously dancing their asses off in 60’s sequin rompers (did I mention the girls whole routine was choreographed?). The boys brought the party with them.
Generally for an article like this I would recant which songs they played and how well they sounded compared to the album. But I cant. Because Mr. France’s words were barely audible and there was nothing soft, surf rock, or Dylan about the entire set. France was screaming at the top of his lungs and every sound he made was so primal that I felt like I had stepped into CBGB circa 1973. I mean seriously- France’s performance was the epitome of punk. His long unkempt hair- punk. His blue mascara- punk. His full suit- which only managed to stay on for about four songs until he stripped it off- uber punk. And his blatant disregard for his body- all punk. Between France’s guttural noises and frequent visits into the crowd (this guy spent more time off stage than on it), I would have been satisfied. But Foxygen had more to give.
Rado kept the whole group together on keys and synth, the lead guitarist had some exceptional solos, the two bassists kept the groove all night long, and I can’t say enough about the three girls. They sang the only words I could understand all night and they never stopped dancing, not once. Let me clarify ‘cause this is important: the girls weren’t twerking or blindly flailing about. Their routine resembled what would happen if The Supremes led a Zumba class. In other words- dey steps was on point.
In fact everything was on point; it was everything you wanted out of a live show. Foxygen transported me that night. I wasn’t just at another Omaha show- I was in a 70s London concert hall watching a band open up for The Clash. I was at a 60s jazz club. I was at a Zeppelin show. I was everywhere but Omaha that night. So thank you Foxygen for the ride.
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All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.