Aiden Dobens ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Standing outside the Paradise Rock Club on a chilly October evening, the excitement among the crowd was palpable. Foxygen, the indie rock/psychedelic duo of Sam France and Jonathan Rado, was in town.
As the crowd ushered into the packed venue, Foxygen’s meteoric rise to indie rock notoriety was confirmed. When asked, the audience of mostly college students and twenty-somethings seemed to have limited knowledge about Foxygen’s music, but their knowledge of the band and what they meant seemed firm.
Foxygen released We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic in January of 2013, which was received with much praise by critics and average listeners alike. Thus, most people in the crowd tonight knew a few songs, but almost everyone knew that Foxygen were kind of a big deal.
Foxygen brought along 9 piece band, which did wonders for their ability to bring their complex music into a live setting.
When lead singer Sam France entered on stage with tight jeans, a blazer, and his bare chest exposed, the crowd erupted. Foxygen got straight to business and opened with their newest piano pop single, “How Can You Really”.
Foxygen kept up the energy from there and went into “On Blue Mountain,” a song with a call and response section that seems as if it were written with the sole intent of being performed live. The fans duly obliged, and the back and forth between Sam and the audience was a marvel to experience.
The set consisted of a many songs from their upcoming album …And Star Power which was good exposure for them, yet alienated many fans who are still waiting to buy it on October 14th. It’s hard to sing along to songs you’ve never heard before.
The instrumentals throughout the show were quite notable, the 8 members behind Sam seemed in sync from start to finish. “Shuggie” was a particularly impressive display, as the band weaved together a song with multiple distinct sections into a coherent live performance.
Foxygen left the stage after an hour, with a running loop on the synthesizer weirdly indicating that they weren’t finished. They were off stage for quite a while.
The crowd reveled in delight as Foxygen returned with a rocking rendition of “No Destruction.” After a three song encore that included “Everyone Needs Love,” another off their upcoming album, Sam explained that it was their time to leave. He sent his love around to the fans who sent kisses right back.
The energy that Sam France projected during the show was electrifying, and he somehow managed to keep it up for an hour and fifteen minutes. His mannerisms were primal and visceral reactions to the music being played behind him. He ran around every inch of the stage, his long blond hair flying along as he savagely jerked every muscle in his skinny body with every note. Sam, on multiple occasions, jumped into the crowd and started dancing with his loving fans. A fan got on stage and kissed him on the mouth, which he seemed to reciprocate. He jumped, kicked, punched, screamed, ran, and shook his butt. Truly one of the most spectacular individual performances of this year.
While Sam France deserves an Oscar for his performance on stage, his antics have some ramifications for Foxygen’s music.
After the show, audience members had their complaints. Firstly, Sam seemed to cause a divide between himself and the other 8 members of the band. His craziness was entirely his own, and the rest of the band jammed in their own groove, allowing Sam his space, but giving a slightly awkward feeling to the show. A fan remarked, “It kinda seemed like Sam was just some crazy kid who was playing with that band for the first time.”
Furthermore, the music definitely suffered. As an individual who knew most words to all the songs, I was able to jam along, knowing what the tracks were supposed to sound like. Granted, a live show should not aim to exactly replicate the sound of an album, but a balance needs to be found. A real shame in Sam’s act is that while he entertained aesthetically, he often was so involved in himself that he didn’t hit the notes the way he so brilliantly does on the albums. Sometimes he didn’t say the lines at all.
Other fans discussed how the lackluster musical execution was wholly detrimental to Foxygen’s continued success. This band is not nearly big enough to just do whatever they want in concert and hope that people who have never heard of them will go and buy their upcoming album in three days time. Which sucks. Because it’s a pretty good album.
Foxygen is an immensely talented duo who took the Paradise Rock Club by storm. Sam France delivered one of the most stimulating performances audiences will ever see. Ultimately, though, people left the venue amazed with the act, but far too ambivalent concerning the music itself. As one member of the audience remarked: “It wasn’t really a concert. It was a show.”