Indie rock and experimental pop duo Foxygen are known for having a hot and vibrant live show, and rumours proved true last Friday when we got a taste of their energetic nine-piece live band at The Fillmore. It was an almost-indescribable, feel-good experience. This being said, we’ll try to reimagine it for you.
First, the band got the audience going with a kick-ass start that set the mood for the evening. Front- and hypeman Sam France showed off his leaping power while three sequin-covered back-up singers bounced to “How Can You Really,” the first single from Foxygen’s recent …And Star Power (2014). This explosion of energy onstage carried its momentum throughout the first quarter continuing with “On Blue Mountain.”
Because the rest of the band seemed to be focused on their own instruments and mutual blending, they opened up space for France to display his craziness and to be the center of attention. His performance was reminiscent of a one-man cirque du freak; France stumbled around the stage expressing a wide spectrum of weird emotions. It was strangely refreshing.
A mixture of joy and slight fear took us when Sam France entered the crowd on “We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic.” It was impossible to tell what he was going to do next.
There were also sections of the show where things got slower, like on the chill “Shuggie” from We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic (2012). But there was always a presence of multiple personalities in Foxygen’s songs. Like France’s stage antics, the music rarely encompassed one single vibe, tempo or feeling, but rather intertwined a set of distinct features that emerged in overlapping sections. This created a constant anticipation for the new, and if you could handle the ever-changing moods you would seldom be bored.
There was one big drawback to the night at The Fillmore: the sound engineering. When hosting a band with such a diverse and exciting sound picture, it quickly becomes an issue if the volume is too exaggerated. With all the different things going on in a nine-piece band like Foxygen, it’s not necessary to push the boundaries on the sound level. The instruments drowned each other out until there was just a wall of noise coming towards the audience. Without earplugs it was a painful experience, but even with them, you lost much of the aural complexity everything seemed flat next to their recordings. Foxygen had enough energy in them that they didn’t need a decibel level to compensate; instead, the loudness interfered with their efforts to create dynamically and thrillingly.
Even though many ears probably were wrecked after the show, and we (ironically) weren’t given a performance their classic “San Francisco,” the night was still a success. There is a sort of relief when bands don’t always do the expected, and Foxygen didn’t just defy expectation — they surpassed it.
Article by Ane Skjølaas