During the band's show Monday at One Eyed Jacks, a guy in attendance gave me his review.
After two or three songs, a guy walked by me on the way out of Foxygen’s show at One Eyed Jacks last Monday and gave it a thumb’s down. “What’s with all the posing?”
He was right and wrong. Yes, Foxygen singer Sam France was all eye makeup, pouts and hip shakes as he worked the crowd. He was over the top, but Foxygen’s over the top, particularly on the new Foxygen … & Star Power—an 80-plus minute-long album sold as a two-album or two-cassette (seriously!) set at the band’s merch table. It too is too much, with well-constructed soul-glam rock songs and pieces that test listeners’ patience. Of course it needs editing, but that’s not what Foxygen does—certainly not in 2014.
Thumbs-Down Guy might have had a point if the crowd didn’t love it, but from the bar to the stage, the crowd had their hands up, reaching toward France, the stage, and the eight-piece band, including keyboard player and partner in the band Jonathan Rado and three female vocalists who were almost as energetic as France on stage. For the night, they were rock stars and everybody wanted to connect with them.
Objectively, the band’s lack of restraint was a problem. The stage volume was so loud that the PA could only do so much for instruments than went through it, and France’s voice was often obscured because of it. For me, it was essential to the night as the band manifested a rock ’n’ roll swagger that I wish I saw more often. The show was simply physical and fun, and I doubt they’ll strike this balance again.
More than one person who saw Foxygen’s last show in New Orleans said that they were a sloppy mess, and this show wasn’t that. Foxygen wasn’t always precise, but it was when it mattered. The pop songs were tight enough that women at the back of the room danced, and the raw, garage moments were appropriately all energy and electricity. If the band stays together, it’ll have to choose to stay small because its best songs, matched with France and Rado’s charisma, will lead to a larger audience. That will lead to better controlled stage volume and better mixes and a more reliable delivery of Foxygen’s charms. It will be really good too, but I loved the way the psychedelic jams and their exuberant energy seemed to be just as valued as “How Can You Really” and other polished pop from the new album.
Click on the photos to see them in viewer.