Five thoughts: Foxygen (August 12, Brooklyn Bowl)

Foxygen singer Sam France performs at Brooklyn Bowl on August 12.
Photo: Spencer Burton

1. Having seen Foxygen open for Moonface nearly two years ago, I knew I’d be better off going into Tuesday’s Brooklyn Bowl set expecting a sh*t show. And while the show didn’t feel as haphazard and acid-trippy as that awkward Beauty Bar opener, that isn’t to say it wasn’t chock-full of completely bizarre, verging-on-uncomfortable moments.

2. Foxygen opened with its new single, “How Can You Really,” off its upcoming October LP, … And Star Power, before ripping into We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic cut “On Blue Mountain.” The addition of two new guitar players, three backup singers and re-assigning former guitarist Jonathan Rado to keys added an energizing lift, but even for some diehard fans, the show lacked the candied ’60s tone on Ambassadors.

3. From the moment singer Sam France stepped onto the stage, the wiry, flamboyant frontman wavered between two separate personas: completely possessed demon-child and ’60s-era pop star. France filled the set with spasmatic screams, using little of the hourlong show to actually sing—and when he did, the overbearing reverb made the lyrics mostly incoherent. The cacophonous set didn’t win the crowd over, and by the end of the show, more than a handful had left the venue.

4. Anyone who has listened to Foxygen knows the band’s brilliance when mashing up and reconstituting classic rock-inspired songs, but the live show does not translate to the stage the way Ambassadors sings through the speakers (give 2012’s Take the Kids off Broadway a spin for a more representative live sound). In defense of Foxygen, this is what the band is known for. By the end of the night, it was obvious the young musicians didn’t come to hash out the songs as fans know them (example: “San Francisco”)—they came to put on a show that would, more or less, leave everyone confused. In that, they succeeded.

5. Performing as Foxygen and Starpower, its upcoming outer space-themed LP is a blatant homage to ’70s art rock (Ziggy Stardust, anyone?), but Tuesday’s performance showed the difference between impersonating the genius of artists like David Bowie and actually executing it well. Would Bowie find the appeal in Tuesday's theatrical, Rocky Horror-meets-Aladdin Sane performance? I’m hoping he’d be humbled by Foxygen’s 2014 interpretation—and maybe even give them some pointers.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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