On Friday, Oct. 29, the patrons of Slim’s in San Francisco were treated to something far more than a simple concert. Cincinnati group Foxy Shazam brought to the crowd a set filled not only with energetic music but also with wild quirks and acrobatics, combined to provide a stage show unrivaled by many of today’s popular acts.
At the beginning of the show, Foxy Shazam emerged with a larger-than-life stage presence, taking hold of their instruments as if walking out onto the stage at Wembley Stadium. Tearing through songs from their latest CD such as “Unstoppable,” “Count Me Out” and an exhilarating performance of the album-opening “Bombs Away,” Foxy Shazam also included a few popular songs from earlier in their career. It was apparent that each of the musicians was completely on tempo and in his element, and the crowd response was overwhelmingly positive as a result.
The music, though fantastic, was of a lesser focus to me than the visual performance taking place onstage. This may seem odd to the average concertgoer, but Foxy Shazam certainly wouldn’t think so. Infusing its indie rock attitude with the theatricality and flamboyance of the glam era, the band aimed to entertain the audience by any means possible. Not only did the group command many intrigued looks with unusual costumes and unorthodox choices of facial hair, the members also employed wild gesticulations and grandiose motions of the entire body in order to bring the audience a show that was as appealing visually as it was aurally.
The keyboardist, Schuyler Vaughn White, decided on more than one occasion to stomp on his keyboard while playing it with his hands, and lead singer Eric Sean Nally grabbed the attention of the audience by moving all around the stage and throwing around the microphone with both his hands and feet. Between songs, Nally engaged the audience with jokes, stories and startling battle cries, introducing “Unstoppable” as a song he wrote in prison and “Bye Bye Symphony” as one written as a child in the bottom of a laundry basket. The only disappointing moment of the show was the ending, which Nally himself openly disclaimed as “boring.” Instead of the energetic musical and visual climax likely expected by most of the audience, the band came together without their instruments and sang a short a cappella piece before leaving the stage in front of an audience expecting an encore that would never come.
If Muse is reminiscent of the operatic-guitar-rock half of Queen, the other half, comprised of inspiring piano riffs and an extravagant stage presence, most certainly belongs to Foxy Shazam. While the music is fantastic and deserves abundant radio airplay, the reason to attend a live show is different entirely: what you will experience is not a concert, but rather a sort of vaudeville show designed to both produce and complement well done indie rock. Not since Alice Cooper or KISS have I seen a show as alluring to the eyes as it is to the ears.