The Lexington, London
4th Feb 2013
Hotly tipped US Indie rock band Foxygen recently popped over to the Uk to play a couple of dates. Louder Than War caught their Lexington show & below our man Willow reports back.
Tonight see’s Foxygen’s second (as far as I know) visit to the UK and it seems they are still putting together their live translations of their two sprawling records to date – seven track EP ‘Take the kids off Broadway’ and new album ‘We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic.
‘San Francisco’ is a show tuney ditty that recalls fellow Californians Love who, like Foxygen started as a couple of high school friends in LA. (Just almost 50 years ago.) Or perhaps British true originators The Zombies of the same 60’s pop era. And this is even before Foxygen’s organ sound really comes into it’s own.
‘On Blue Mountain’ starts off like a soul drenched Make-Up track then takes a left turn into The Rolling Stone’s Under my thumb then breaks into a chorus that sounds like Suspicious Minds. If there is an archetypal Foxygen track, and that’s not an easy thing to state, then this is it. Perhaps the common thread about their songs is that each morphs at least once into something else before either going back to the starting theme or veering off into even stranger territory.
It’s a packed house tonight and there are plenty of devotees down the front but you can’t help sense that there are some slightly bemused members of the audience who have come here to check out these new kids on the block as well. (NKOTB are not incidentally one of Foxygen’s myriad influences). Where do I stand? Well, there is something really likeable about Foxygen. They dart and weave experimentally live, like their records do but this does verge on the shambolic at times and when the band leave the stage and lead singer Sam France attempts to play a solo song on just a guitar he can barely play it at all and the crowds’ patience does start to wear a little thin. But there is a strong amount of carrying-on-regardless which has it’s own charm if you think about it versus some kind of 100% polished, believe the hype, real deal performance.
They round off the show with the new LP’s title track “We are 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic.” This they may well be but this show has felt a little bit on the self indulgent side. Sometimes I wish the banter would stop and they’d just get on with it but at the same time I don’t want to watch a dull as hell Vaccines-like bore of a band.
Foxygen’s looseness alongside a broad appetite of influences will make them an unpredictable proposition live and on record in the future, much like their idols Anton Newcombe’s Brian Jonestown Massacre. I’m all for artists almost completely doing their own thing and to hell with audience expectations and this relatively young band still has time to grow into itself. There’s not a lot of soul here yet but a whole lot of heart and Foxygen will be worth another look and listen when they return to play down the road at the larger Kings Cross Scala on 6th June.
Words by Willow Colios. More writing by Willow on Louder Than War can be found here.