An Evening with Foxygen

Above: Impatiently waiting for the doors to open.
The feeling when a band completely shocks you and shatters your expectations of their live shows is a rare and glorious thing. And last night Foxygen did just that for me at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus.

I’ve always been a fan of Foxygen’s mesh of 60’s and 70’s-influenced rock songs that change tempo mid-tune, experiment with rhythms and brass/horns, craft erratic lyrical and vocal stylings, use sound effects, and fuse piano and keyboards into a jam. I went into the show expecting a laid back, peaceful session that wouldn’t be out of place at a small(er) city coffee shop, or a used book store.

Instead what I got was a full-fledged performance by Sam France dressed as a cross between Freddie Mercury and David Bowie, some Broadway-style dance sequences with backing singer Jackie, a nearly 7-minute guitar solo from Johnathan Rado and even a costume change halfway through the show. Above: Foxygen first takes the stage.

The show started with an excellent opener of about 6 songs from songwriter Gabriella Cohen and her backing band, who I’d never listened to previously. They were from an eclectic combination of Romania and Australia and crafted a show of charming banter with the audience and extensive jams on both electric and bass guitar. I also loved seeing two women fronting the show-and their vocal harmonies were fantastic. 

Above: Gabriella Cohen and her merry band.
Foxygen took the stage around 9 and instantly ripped into “We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic,” complete with a brass arrangement and a fantastic contrast of France’s wild and dramatic stage presence and Rado’s collected and calm keyboard playing. But just because Rado was relaxed and quiet in his demeanor doesn’t mean he still didn’t have his time to shine, like in his aforementioned solo before the encore, and some additional solos on both guitar and keyboard.Above: Rado is a man of few words, but plenty righteous riffs.

After that, their lovely singer Jackie (who the crowd gleefully yelled to) joined the band on stage to provide some delightful backing vocals for “San Francisco” and “Shuggie,” and stayed on stage the rest of the show to provide a dance partner for France, tambourine playing, and assorted harmonies.Above: Jackie prancing around her microphone stand before being joined by Rado to provide vocals for “On Lankershim.”

The band played the entire “Hang” album, as well as their hits from “We Are the 21st Century…” They even pulled a few from “…And Star Power,” using “How Can You Really” as the closing encore track.

Above: A casual trumpet jam session from France.

What really thrilled me about the show was the sheer energy level that France provided and the amazing quality of musicianship. Everyone on stage flowed perfectly wth each other, even when just jamming out during a transition. France performed each song like he was the starring role in an old Broadway show, falling to his knees and nearing tears for “Trama” or doing a perfectly timed jazz hand and kickline dance for “Avalon” (one of my personal favourites).

Above: France sings to his adoring fans after serenading Rado.
The audience interaction was also great. France offered the perfect amount of sarcasm and self-confidence, but seemed genuine as could be in all the kisses he blew to the crowd. He even answered fans screaming to him on the stage, and invited people to sing along and correct the words he’d gotten wrong in the lyrics.

All in all, I’m blessed I got to start my weekend watching such a performative and talented group that completely blew me away (and writes music that reminds me of my musical theatre days). I can’t wait to see Foxygen again soon and see the direction they take this performative and theatrical style in.

Thanks for reading, and God bless.

-A.L.D.

Four Out of Five

A short update for this Wednesday afternoon. I was up at 7 this morning when the Lollapalooza lineup dropped, and I am ecstatic  to see that four out of five of the bands/artists on my wishlist yesterday-Lorde, Muse, Arcade Fire and Car Seat Headrest- are on it!

I won’t reveal too much about how I feel about the lineup yet because I’m planning a Top Ten post for this year’s Lolla (like I did last year, if you’ve been following since I started blogging over summer), but I am all the more eager to finish up this semester and finally get to summer because of it.

Did you see your dream festival performances on the lineup today? What are they? 

Have a great week, thanks for reading and God bless.

-A.L.D.

Lollapalooza 2017 Band Wishlist

For my fellow concert enthusiasts going to Lollapalooza, I hope the ticket purchasing process went smoothly for you today. I am happy to say it did for me, and I am officially going to Lollapalooza 2017!

In honor of the lineup dropping tomorrow morning at 7 (I live in Ohio, so I’m Eastern Time), I’ve compiled a list of my top 5 bands I’d love to see at Lolla 2017. This is based off of lists I’ve seen floating around the internet of rumored headliners, plus some of my own personal dream concerts. (We’ll see tomorrow morning if my dreams actually come true).

5.) Lorde

When “Royals” dropped in 2013, I was at first indifferent, then vehement I wouldn’t listen to it because the fanbase was so massive, and when I finally sat down and listened to “Pure Heroine” I realized that as usual when I’m an elitist about my music, I’m wrong. Lorde absolutely kills the pop game in my book, with her sparse production, synth waves and signature warbling alto. I’ve loved the two new singles-“Green Light” and “Liability”-and after seeing her SNL performance a few weeks back, I’m ready to see Lorde live.

4.) Muse

Another band I originally wrote off, and I still can’t believe I ever did. I got the chance to catch Muse live in 2013, and I was absolutely floored. Not only did the quality of musicianship completely impress me, but the stage presence and light show that goes with a Muse show is incredible. I’d love to see these guys in a festival setting, especially since I’m hearing that their performances are becoming more politically charged and vibrant than before.

3.) The Orwells

I’ve already praised these Chicago-based 20something garage rockers so many times on this blog, so I’ll keep this brief. The Orwells do a fantastic job of creating concise, banging rock songs with the occasional shockingly dark and sad lyric thrown in. Since I’ll be traveling for school when they’re in Pittsburgh, I figure a summer festival is the next best place to witness the punky, sneering swagger they bring to the stage.

2.) Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire will always hold a special place in my heart for being the first indie rock band I dug into the back catalog of and explored from back to front at the tender age of 13. Also, I wanted to be Regine Chassagne for the longest time after “The Suburbs” dropped. Also, “Rebellion (Lies)”might be my favourite song ever. Also, “My Body is a Cage” is one of the best closing tracks I’ve ever heard. A festival would be the best place to fall in love all over again with these eclectic masterminds.

1.) Car Seat Headrest

Of course! Are you really surprised after all I’ve said about these guys recently? I basically have to see Will Toledo and Co this summer and the videos from Pitchfork 2016 just aren’t enough. If I’m in the first row, the second row or even the back of the crowd, when I hear the first notes of “Fill in the Blank” (if I’m lucky, “Times to Die” or “Cosmic Hero”), it’ll definitely transform my summer into the best one I’ve had thus far. Time shall tell.

Who are you hoping for on the Lolla lineup tomorrow?

As always, thanks for reading, and God bless.

-A.L.D.

A Very Belated Update

My apologies for not updating in a while. This semester is turning out to be much more than I originally bargained for, but as of yet nothing I can’t handle. Unfortunately, my posting count has suffered because of midterms, house obligations and chores, work and two large cumulative projects I’ve been working on throughout the semester.

But I am still here and as excited about 2017’s music scene as ever. Currently, I’m barely able to wait for Mac Demarco’s “This Old Dog” and Father John Misty’s “Pure Comedy” to drop (May 5 and April 7, respectively). I’m also loving the new music from Alt-J and Lorde, two artists I’ve been anxiously awaiting follow-ups and new directions from. Thanks to The Needle Drop, I’ve also been enjoying new music from PWR BTTM, especially their new single “Answer My Text” (which I highly recommend you listen to right now).

Since school is consuming every aspect of my social life, I also was unable to attend the Lucy Dacus/Hamilton Leithauser show I was planning on blogging about last month. Fortunately, I’ve been offered a chance to see Foxygen in a few weeks during a lull in my academic, social and work calendar, and I’ve also gotten tickets to see Spoon on May 11 after my finals are done, my projects turned in and I have a break from work for a few weeks.

And of course I’m counting down the days until 4-day passes for Lollapalooza go on sale. With the rumours of headliners I’ve heard (Lorde, Arcade Fire, Muse, Fleet Foxes…), I get more excited with each passing day. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I can’t wait to see Car Seat Headrest-I just feel like they HAVE to be on the lineup this year. They just have to.

So again, I apologize for the delay in updating over the last month. I was going to do a playlist post for Valentine’s Day (and still might, even though it’s quite belated), but this will have to do for now. I’ll try my best to keep updating here in the upcoming weeks after my Spring Break; I always enjoy the feedback I receive and writing about one of my most favourite things is quite relaxing.

Thanks for reading, and God bless.

-A.L.D.