Concert Review: Foxygen blasts 9:30 Club with experimental rock
Foxygen, the indie-rock duo of Sam France and Jonathan Rado, brought its mesmerizing psychedelic experimental-rock to 9:30 Club on Oct. 5.
A full band accompanied the Los Angeles duo and fleshed out the duo’s extravagant performance with undeniable style. A sizable Sunday crowd packed into the venue, cheering on frontman France as he led one of Foxygen’s famously unhinged performances.
Fellow experimental duo Dub Thompson performed an opening set and kept the still-growing crowd reasonably entertained. Their eclectic songs range in genre from early punk, to grunge, to experimental. High points like “Dograces” and “Hayward!” got the crowd interested, but when other songs pushed into experimental noise-art territory, the crowd lost energy.
However, an exceptionally tight backing band for the eclectic duo showcased the driving drums and powerful bass lines underneath Dub Thompson’s noise-rock inspired synth freak outs. Shrill, sometimes overwhelmingly experimental synth breaks were alternated with genuinely noteworthy moments of genre-blending gems. Overall, the promising post-punk foundation of Dub Thompson’s sound made them an enjoyable opening act – and a band to watch as it grows.
After a lengthy break for a meticulous setup, Foxygen and its seven-piece touring band – including backup singers – took over the stage. Under hazy blue light, the band opened the evening with their recent single, “How Can You Really,” and France exploded onto stage like a hyper-caffeinated bat out of hell, jittering and jumping across the stage, onto the monitors and into the crowd.
France’s deranged stage presence was part homage to punk legends Iggy Pop and Sid Vicious, and part post-grunge spectacle a la the late Kurt Cobain or Matt Schultz of Cage the Elephant. Nearly falling off the stage, falling on stage and becoming tangled in the microphone cord would be detrimental to any average vocalists’ performance, but France is hardly average.
For the first half of the set, Foxygen played songs off their critically acclaimed album “We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic,” including popular tracks “Shuggie” and “On Blue Mountain.”
Drawing equal inspiration from Mick Jagger, Lou Reed and famously bizarre Flaming Lips front man Wayne Coyne, France managed to deliver an impressive vocal performance despite his on (and off) stage antics. His multiple forays directly into the crowd to dance and mosh with concertgoers made the entire venue feel like one gigantic house party – no small feat for a venue that can hold over a thousand people.
Foxygen played some of its most recognized songs during the highly demanded encore set, including sing-along-ready single “No Destruction.” France and his cohort ended the evening with extended jams on the fuzzed-out favorite, “Teenage Alien Blues.” The stigma of Sunday evening shows was shattered by Foxygen’s masterful balance of chaos and raw energy against carefully rehearsed performance and a truly talented touring band.
Words may fail to wholly describe the brilliant insanity of a Foxygen performance, but with an album set to release later this month, it’s likely the band will return to D.C. soon. With a rotating touring lineup and a performer as erratic as France, no Foxygen show is likely to be the same – though it’s always sure to be a good time.