Review: Foxygen show at Lincoln Hall ‘nothing less than a blast’


(Kirsten Onsgard / The DePaulia)

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This time last year, Foxygen was just recovering from a series of minor PR issues. Singer Sam France confronted a fan at SXSW, and was injured over the summer, resulting in dozens of tour cancellations. A former touring member detailed on Tumblr alleged conflicts between France and founding bandmate Jonathan Rado, promptly denied by the two. Despite their acclaimed 2013 record, “We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic,” it was a slightly murky time.

The summer marked a triumphant return: a Coachella set and a summer tour, not mention last week’s release. Their third album, “…And Star Power” is a wild ride of a double LP that plays like a “best of” album of psych and glam rock. Here, Foxygen were clearly left to indulge themselves: sides are conspicuously named as “The Hits,” “The Paranoid Side” and the ominous “Scream: A Journey Through Hell.” In Foxygen’s folklore, “Star Power” is an imaginary superstar band, and Lincoln Hall’s marquee announced the bill as “Foxygen and Star Power.”

They’ve upped the ante live as well. A friend of the band introduced them, noting that he was slightly miffed that it seemed like France and Rado had invited all of their friends to join the band, minus himself. Certainly Lincoln Hall’s stage felt a bit cramped after the group entered, with a full nine members – including three female backup singers – squeezed on stage. France claimed most of the limited space himself, and for good reason. The show opened with the hits – though not entirely from “The Hits” – with the infectious chords of the shimmery “How Can You Really.”

Clad in an open suit jacket and splattered with heavy eyeliner, France strutted about the stage in metallic, low-rise jeans flanked by three backup singers. The women, in short, shimmery dresses, twirled and pumped in choreographed Jazzercize-like dance moves. It felt like a scene from another era, one that the band and most of the audience was too young to remember and that would be difficult to pin down even if they had.

Without a horn section and full orchestra, Foxygen translated their dense arrangements into a wild and energetic live performance, emphasizing their theatrical side. Accompanied with live backup singers, “On Blue Mountain” came alive in all of its punchy glory. The bouncy guitar line of “We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic” chugged along into a total punkish freak-out, as France leaned and jumped into the crowd. The oft-quoted “There’s no need to be an asshole/You’re not in Brooklyn anymore” line from “No Destruction” invoked an audience chant.

While I wish they had played up their fictitious “Star Power” band or whipped through the entirety of the “Star Power Suite” from the first side of their new album, Foxygen’s live show is nothing less than a blast. Despite the nonchalant reviews of their latest album, this is a band forgetting the past and moving forward, however they want to do it. Personally, I can’t get enough.