Every Moment a Spectacle with Foxygen

October 22nd, 2013

Foxygen – The Bowery Ballroom – October 21, 2013

The stage at The Bowery Ballroom last night was covered with spider webs, gravestones and other Halloween paraphernalia. At little past 11, Jonathan Rado crept onstage, dressed as a mad scientist, fussing around with an old Moog synthesizer that spit out a collection of dissonant, creepy tones. Then came the rest of the band, a mummy, a zombie janitor, a “mystery janitor” and lead singer Sam France dressed convincingly as Beetlejuice. France grabbed an acoustic guitar and played through a song by himself, and then the band jumped right into “On Blue Mountain.”

It was in that moment that the venue got its first taste of what the show would be like, and it tasted delicious. The song came together in an instant like it was almost a lucky coincidence of everything falling into place. As France performed the hell out of every last inch of the song, twirling around a Christmas light–covered baton, the band powered through the song’s hairpin twists and turns, approaching the bone-deep hooks like a train plummeting through a brick wall and taking every last bit of it with them. Almost as good, and all the more unpredictable, were the moments between songs that included among other things, a band member chasing France with a fake dead rat, France polling the crowd on a series of banalities, like “What’s your favorite Web site?”

Then there was France telling the audience that Kanye West was in the building and that Disney hasn’t made a good movie since Toy Story 2, and a brief moment of the band randomly jumping into a few seconds of their Halloween rendition of “Seven Nation Army.” Poking fun at their reputation for their classic-rock sound, France finished off the sing-along chorus of “Shuggie” by announcing, “We’re Foxygen, playing you the greatest hits of the ’60s and ’70s!” With such unpredictability, it almost felt like the show could fall off the rails at any moment, but it never quite does. With France as the show’s train conductor on acid, every moment’s a spectacle in some way, and the train never slows down to let anyone off. —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of Peter Senzamici |