After the much-reported train wreck that was Foxygen’s last album-supporting tour (for their 2013 breakout LP We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic), I admittedly did some pre-show research before deciding whether it would be worthwhile to catch them live this go-round. After reading and hearing a few good things (and digging on their new album …And Star Power), this one was a go.
Hitting the stage just after 10 pm with the exuberant “How Can You Really”, the six-piece band (plus three backup singers/dancers) wasted nary a blink getting the crowd worked up for the duration of the brief, but punch-y set. Front man Sam France appeared on-stage wide-eyed (with added mascara for dramatic effect) and infused with enough energy to power the City of Atlanta, operating in near reckless abandon mode throughout the set (while notably wearing a wrist brace). The three backup singers were easy on the eyes and added layers of powerful vocals while working through a well-choreographed routine (even through the most disorderly portions of the show).
Musically, the set ranged from warped, blues-heavy garage psych to Ziggy Stardust-meets-Of Montreal glam rock. The youthful crowd ate up just about every second throughout the 60 minute set (particularly “Shuggie”, “On Blue Mountain”, and “We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic”), singing along during some of the more melodic moments and marveling/documenting as France ran through the crowd, busted a handful of mic stands and flailed about wildly on stage. Somehow, the great majority of the show stayed on the edge without tipping over – reigned in just enough before things spun out of control.
I particularly enjoyed the band’s loose musicality at points, particularly when France’s more restrained half Jonathan Rado swirled psychedelic on the Wurlitzer while the talented sirens wailed away and double guitars exhibited some bruising and impressive (but not-over-the-top) chops. Just as quickly as it began the show ended in a flash and Foxygen exited post encore after thanking the crowd. Our ears were left ringing but we headed home happy with the decision to make it out on a school night.
Takeaway: This kind of set translated very well and was a great deal more fun in a dark club environment than I imagine it would have been on a sparsely-attended big festival stage in the middle of the day. This pairing of the dimly lit, low overhead venue and rowdy, colorful band was pretty perfect at this stage in Foxygen’s career. I recommend shooting for a proper show in the near future if you’re still looking for a first impression (or a do over if you caught one of the more disastrous shows last year). Go in ready to take things with a grain of salt, at the end of the day these are early-twentysomethings still living out the early stages of their rock-and-roll fantasy, pushing the limited and having a great deal of fun doing it at the moment (seemingly no longer at the expense of crowd enjoyment).