Chicago – Last week Foxygen took the Windy City by storm. The LA psychedelic rockers sold out two shows at Lincoln Hall, and their performance on Chicago’s WGN Morning News was the talk of the town. Even English rockers Temples swung by Lincoln Park to watch frontman Sam France put “the LA in Chicago.” With never a dull moment, the show was simply captivating.
Long-time friends Jonathan Rado (keyboard & guitar) and Sam France (vocals) formed Foxygen in 2005 while still in high school. Their classmate Shaun Michael Fleming (drums) would also join the band, along with bassist Justin Nijssen. Foxygen now boasts nine members with guitarists Jared Walker and Kevin Basko and back-up singers Emily Panic, Nina Joly, and Jacquelyn Cohen. After releasing several self-produced EPs, Richard Swift discovered the band in 2011, landing them a record deal with Jagjaguwar and producing their first studio album Take the Kids Off Broadway. 2013′s We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic followed, along with critical acclaim and media scrutiny. Rumors of a break-up intensified, especially when Rado and Fleming (Diane Coffee) began solo projects.
However, Foxygen proved they’re still going strong with their recent release …And Star Power. Best New Bands’ review of …And Star Power noted, “One of the most exciting aspects of the album is the incredible live performance feel to it. Every track, even the ballads, captures the spirit of a concert.” And quite the spirit they have! Foxyen brings back 70s glam rock. France parades around stage like a true rock star, bringing to mind David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, at times wildly throwing himself to the floor and prancing through the crowd shirtless, sparkling with gold eye shadow and dripping in sweat and mascara. His star power makes it hard to take your eyes off him.
Foxygen came out of the gate running with “How Can You Really.” The room went wild. Between opening acts, fans were overheard excitedly gushing about Foxygen. Many had been waiting years to see their beloved band, which over the years developed a reputation for insanely energetic shows. Truth to that! France is the second coming of the Energizer bunny!
Although on tour to promote their latest album, Foxygen played a balanced mix of new and old. New songs included “Brooklyn Police Station,” “Coulda Been My Love,” and “Cannibal Holocaust,” and Foxygen played the oldies “On Blue Mountain,” “Shuggie,” and “We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic.” After “Everyone Needs Love,” the band left the stage to dry off. They came back out, all smiles, ready for a two-song encore, starting with “No Destruction” and ending the night with “Teenage Alien Blues.” The room swayed and sang along with France: “I think I’m gonna live long the rest of my life.” After seeing Foxygen, those lyrics definitely seem to hold true.
Cali boys Matt Pulos and Evan Laffer of Dub Thompson have been touring with Foxygen and introducing crowds to their mix of post-punk, psych-pop, krautrock and dub. Under the tutorage of Rado, the 19-year-olds lived in a rented space in Bloomington, Indiana, ate a bunch of hard-boiled eggs, and recorded 9 Songs (Dead Oceans) during a humid summer. And what began as a project between two high school friends, has grown into a five-piece live band. With the extra hands, Pulos leaves behind his guitar to focus on keys and vocals, and Laffer walks away from his drum kit, adding extra beats with an iPad and some cowbell. You read that right, an iPad!
Seeing Dub Thompson live is awe-inspiring. The blending of genres in songs like “No Time” and “Dograces” makes for a unique sound, and their creative use of technology deserves applause. Applause they did receive. People upfront whistled and clapped in excitement, song after song. And at one point, a few drunk ladies hollered for Laffer to take off his shirt. Laffer blushed but soon obliged, removing his fresh Blisters tee.
Dub Thompson clearly bonded with fellow teenage rockers The Blisters. The Chicago four-piece started the night off with their phenomenal indie rock. The quartet consists of singer and guitarist Henry Mosher, guitarist Hayden Holbert, bassist Tory Postilion-Lopez, and drummer Spencer Tweedy. Yes, Spencer Tweedy as in the son of Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy. Despite being so young, the band sounds rather seasoned. Seeing as Tweedy started the band when he was seven, and both Mosher and Tweedy have been playing instruments since they were little, their polish makes sense. Well, that and surely some coaching from your dads every now and then helps. (Mosher’s dad – Rick Mosher – is also a musician.) Songs like “Through You” and “One Day” demonstrate just how talented these boys are.
The Blisters have become known around Chicago, playing Lollapalooza and local haunts like Schubas and Subterranean. Although they recently released the album Finally Bored through Analog Animal Records, The Blisters doubted they’d remain a band with most of the guys going off to college in different states. But this performance and a recent facebook post announcing they’ve begun working on new material, shows perhaps the guys had a change of heart. Speaking of new material, The Blisters ended their set with a new song, titled “Come Down.” Check out The Blisters because their music deserves to be heard far beyond the confines of Chicago.
Foxygen is on tour now. They’ll be finishing up their North American tour before heading off to Europe. Foxygen will also be performing at Fun Fun Fun Fest. Click HERE for tour dates. …And Star Power is available for purchase on iTunes.
After attending The School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Sarah went on to study education at Dominican University, earning a degree in history. When not teaching, writing, or taking in a show, she is most likely to be found with a camera to her eye or hanging out in a darkroom.
You can follow Sarah Hess on twitter at @Sarahhasanh and view her music photography on her website: smhimaging.com.