Concert Review: Foxygen, May 9, Wrongbar


As I’m sure the members of Foxygen can attest, SXSW can be a pretty crazy, hectic time. If a band impresses there, it can be a career making performance, but luckily the fact that it’s such a chaotic time can also work to a band’s advantage if they put on a less than stellar show. And so, despite some negative reviews (including Ricky’s for this very site) and reports (and video) of singer Sam France having a mini-breakdown onstage, I was not going to give up on these guys. Their latest album is an impressive enough amalgam of all the right retro influences that I really wanted to see what they’re capable of live. I’d like to say they redeemed themselves at their Wrongbar gig  and showed that they are capable of greatness … but no.

What transpired onstage devolved fairly quickly from a sloppy yet energetic set into a full on self indulgent mess of noise and shouting interspersed with long pauses between songs. The problem was not that it was loose and noisy and weird. In fact, I often like loose, noisy and weird. Openers Crumbs (who shared a couple members with Foxygen) did loose, noisy and weird much better than did the headliners. At times it almost felt like an Andy Kaufman-esque prank with France asking for a hammer from the crowd so he could bash his head in til he forgets all the lyrics, shouting out “Jesus is the lord” on stage and lots of time wasted between songs. I was left wondering what was behind all this.  Were they doing it on purpose?  Was intoxication a factor?  Is Joaquin Phoenix the secret Svengali-like manager behind the band?  Are these guys OK or what?  It was a bad performance, but in some ways fascinatingly so.  They almost seemed determined to fail.

As I watched the band, I couldn’t help but think of The Replacements, another band who were also known in their day for putting out brilliant albums while also delivering sloppy, drunken hit and miss live performances.   However, unlike The Replacements (whose sloppy, drunken performances at least seemed like they might have been kind of fun), I don’t necessarily see Foxygen’s mess of a live show helping to build their mystique like the Minneapolis legends did back in the day. Nor is Foxygen doing their current reputation any good.

By the end of their set, the sold out (?) crowd at Wrongbar had thinned out considerably and by the time the band left the stage, practically no one was waiting for an encore. Most filed out quickly without looking back while a few stragglers hung back, perhaps hoping to congratulate the emperor on his new clothes.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts

8 Responses to Concert Review: Foxygen, May 9, Wrongbar

  1. Dave Fox

    It was the worst live show I’ve ever seen, the first time I’ve ever left a gig in my life. It was sloppy, self indulgent, egotistical noise and an absolute insult to the crowd that paid to see music. An absolute shame, their album is so good and they show so much promise. It seems though that at their young age, they believe their own hype, and so do some of their hangers-on. 3 hours to get on stage only to begin setting up is a joke, and to then not even really play…ugh. I’d been looking forward to the show for months and I left after 25 minutes. From what I hear / have read, it got worse after I left.

  2. Alicia Cee

    I thought it was an amazing show. they did do an encore, the whole band left after “we are the 21st century ambassadors of peace and magic” except for the singer and then they did a two man thing for a while and a few more songs, that was the “encore”. it was past 12 when they left after that. the crowd had thinned out a lot, but the show was amazing. i don’t think the mass mentality is ready for it yet. the crazy antics are part of what makes it a complete different entity in terms of a rock concert. it’s fun and loud and crazy and sam might dive into the drumset and scream a lot of the lyrics but it’s a beautiful thing to watch unravel marvelously in front of your eyes. i love them and can’t wait for them to come back (around september!)

  3. Brad

    Horrible show. Crumbs were good, crazy in their own way but very tight as a band and the right amount of banter between songs. Foxygen were brutal. The frontman was a petulant child up there, I could barely hear any of the sung bits of anything. A whole lot of yelping and talking nonsense.

  4. Adam

    I couldn’t disagree more.

  5. Jo

    Sam France kept leaving the stage in the middle of songs. His pupils were dead dilated saucers, there was a complete disconnect between him and everything going on around him. The other bandmates just kept their heads down and tried to play… something. They obviously didn’t care about what was going on, the only effort was put into the sloppy annihilation of their music. I felt bad leaving because I wanted to find some value in their set, and I did like the fun, chaotic juxtaposition in Shuggie. But man, I have never attended a worse show in my life. It was disrespectfully, embarrassingly bad, and I wouldn’t pay to see them again.

  6. Dave Fox

    “I don’t think the mass mentality is ready for it yet.” – you couldn’t sound more pretentious if you tried. It was an insultingly bad show. All I could tolerate was 25 minutes of their self indulgence, and I didn’t leave on my own. There was a small exodus as I left, with people shaking their heads.

  7. Bob

    I agree with everything in this review. It was without a doubt the worst show I have ever attended, and such a huge disappointment as their album is fantastic. I hope they grow into decent performers, but I fear it is unlikely.

  8. Guest

    everyones entitled to their own opinion and im not surprised people thought it was bad. i changed my sentence around didnt mean to sound pretentious. but with that, long live foxygen!

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