July 29 2013
Foxygen kicked off their string of North American shows before reaching Pickathon in Portland, OR this upcoming weekend at the Turner Hall Ballroom last night with Twin Peaks in tow. It was a fun performance that contained all you could ever want from an act like Foxygen, with frontman Sam France up to his usual crazy antics and being emotive as ever. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty, shall we?
Right off the bat, I have to confess that this might be one of the few times I was more excited about seeing an opener than I was for the headliner. Twin Peaks is a garage group of 19-year-old college drop-outs from Chicago that have seemingly made the right choice. I was extremely impressed by their debut LP Sunken that was reissued earlier this month. It’s surprising that kids this young can create such catchy guitar hooks with driving rhythms in an ultra lo-fi atmosphere. They also put on a practically flawless live show. You could tell they were a bit nervous but they did their best to own that stage, something they definitely accomplished. I only expect great things to come from these guys in the future and a possible lawsuit from David Lynch (they even had the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on their merch shirts, so I guess they’re just going to go after every IP they can until somebody says something).
Needless to say, Foxygen came out some short time afterwards. They pretty much played exclusively from their latest We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic; this isn’t necessarily a bad thing since that record is awesome, but it would have been nice to hear a bit more from their initial Take the Kids Off Broadway. They did include the single “Make It Known” and decided to end the encore with the epic “Teenage Alien Blues” though (right after France took a quick trip to the toilet), so if there’s a way to utilize material from the earlier album, they chose well. We were also treated to “Cosmic Vibrations” and “Brooklyn Police Station,” the as of yet to be recorded-and-released songs that have been floating around the internet, so it was cool to finally see that for myself. If there’s one song I wished they would’ve played but didn’t, it has to be “San Francisco,” my favorite track off of this last album. But since Elizabeth Fey is no longer touring with the band, it is to be expected.
If there was one outstanding highlight to last night’s show, it was the recurring Disney theme. Jonathan Rado continuously sang snippets from popular Disney songs such as, “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” “When You Wish Upon a Star,” “Make a Man Out of You,” and “Under the Sea” while France made random references to Disney’s projects. But Rado does deserve more praise than just that. The man had some serious guitar solos that just cut to straight to the soul and even impressed the audience with an impromptu drum solo right before the encore. And if any other thing needs to be said about France, it’s that the dude loves to climb. Whether it was the monitors in front of the stage, stools in the middle, amps in the back, or even the speaker stack stage left, he was all over the place, making his already intense performance all the more entertaining. You can tell he’s almost trying to be a hyperrealistc version of Mick Jagger by adding those acrobatics to the already convincing facial expressions, hand gestures, and hip gyrations. He even rolled around on the floor on occasion and hit the drummer’s cymbals practically every chance he got. He’s essentially a bona fide wildman on stage.
Any press you may have read lately about Rado and France not getting along and playing concerts that are tinged with bitter resentment did not hold true here. The duo seemed nothing but happy with each other and never showed any signs of anger. And considering that before Rado walked off the stage for a final time he said that this was the best live show he’s ever played, hands down, I think that Foxygen is going to be all right.