Foxygen | photo by Wendy McCardle for WXPN
XPN Fest Recap: Foxygen gets weird on the River Stage
Throw away what you believe a rock show should look like because Foxygen probably just redefined it. The California duo, made up of Jonathan Rado and Sam France along with their backing band, got a little weird on the River Stage in Wiggins Park Saturday afternoon. France came out with his shirt tied up in the middle of his gut, his eyes covered by heartshaped sunglasses, his hair red and his face and all white — whether it was sunscreen or some sort of makeup/paint is TBD. Jackie Cohen, who supplied backing vocals, tried kicking a beach ball off the stage and sent her shoe with it. Neither she nor France kept still for just about the entire set. Their movement, sometimes spastic but often quite rehearsed, sent waves of energy into the crowd, which was the largest it had been in the park so far this weekend.
That’s just what we saw, though. Foxygen’s sound was big enough to satisfy the growing audience and then some. They offered a vibe that seemed to long for decades long gone, but not out of place in its current home. Aided by the big brass sound of trumpets, a saxophone, a trombone, and at one point even a tuba, the nine-piece effort blasted through a set that contained mostly the band’s hits and tracks from their 2017 LP Hang. The big band sound filled the air on all tracks, but it was most dominant in the triumphant third tune, “Shuggie.”
Rado’s contributions were just as influential. When he hopped on the piano, more poppy and bubbly vibes bled into Foxygen’s sound (see: “San Francisco”). Yet when he picked up his guitar, the result was hard rock in its purest form. Foxygen’s ability to hop between the two realms was, for me, the most appealing quality of the set. You never knew what was coming next. Like when, about three-quarters of the way through it all, France and Cohen abruptly ran off stage. One dramatically scored absence later, they returned with fancy new outfits, looking dapper to finish out the set.
To close, France and Cohen left the stage once more, this time to never return. The reigns were let go for the rest of the musicians on stage. It got beautifully loud and then it was over.
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