24 January 2011
Bogarts, Cincinnati, Ohio
It’s always fun when a band comes home to do a home town show (I know I’ve said it before, and it’s still true.). They’ve got friends and family around and the mood is generally pretty high. I’ve never had a bad experience at a band where they were playing at home in front of their own crowd, and Foxy Shazam was no exception. Foxy are one of those bands that you can’t help but have one of two reactions: one: this is the best thing EVER or two: WTF is this? Admittedly, most people were there to see Circa Survive, a topic that we will delve into at a later point, so most people fell into the latter category. They’re one of those bands that you can’t help but abandon all inhibitions and dance the night away. After all, that’s exactly what they did. Walking out in gold lamé, brocade, jacquard, fringe, and top hats, they looked like a Victorian era group of wandering minstrels that got caught in the 1970s. It makes for an interesting visual mix. As soon as they stepped on stage, so many people changed their demeanour. Eyes went wide and mouths fell agape. It was complete and total chaos from that point forward; it was a visual and sonic tornado that figuratively destroyed everything in its path. On first impression, it shouldn’t have worked. Trumpets and top hats and high kicks, oh my! You can’t put them in any kind of musical box, because they will break right out of it in no time.
It begs me to ask the following question: Do you proceed with caution or do you take it at face value and just go with it? Honestly it’s a little bit of both. There is no predicting what will happen during their set, eve if you’ve seen them a hundred times. Every single time is different. Tonight, opening with the cracker Bombs Away, it would have been more effectively renamed BOMBS AWAY!!!!!. Straight out of the gate, they were a swirling mass of energy and bodies. The only thing that was predictable about their set was the fact that Bombs Away was followed by Oh Lord, a staple one-two shot of adrenaline straight to the heart (the beautifully shot video can be found below.). Before anyone had a chance to recover, they blasted right into Count Me Out. Irreverence be damned, with each verse, they tried their hardest to out weird each other. It didn’t matter what happened: Rockettes style high kicking (but I can kick higher than you!), barrel rolling across stage (I’ll keep rolling until I run into the wall!) or using their equipment as gymnastics apparatus (you can stand on the drums? Yeah, well, I can stand on my keyboard AND play. With my feet. At the same time.), they always tried to out do each other. Anything you can do, I can do better. It’s that sort of good natured fraternity that doesn’t exist that much any more. Stuck very firmly in a musical landscape when all too often bands take themselves entirely too seriously, it’s refreshing if not a little confusing. If their antics weren’t your thing, perhaps the between song banter is more up your alley. I do wish that a transcript of everything that was said was available somewhere because tonight’s banter wasn’t typical. It was scathing and acerbic and wonderful. It wouldn’t be such a far fetched notion to think that if Eric decides that he wants to go back to school as an educator, he would make the most interesting sociologist out there. We can, then, perhaps, hope that the next best thing he can do is to write a book. Who knows, with enough material, he could be the next Henry Rollins.
Following an act like that would have been insurmountably difficult, and only a handful of bands could do it effectively. Fortunately, one of those bands is Circa Survive. Circa are one of those bands who are either on or they’re struggling to keep up. When they’re off, you can’t do anything but pray that it ends quickly and painlessly. When they’re on, they’re absolutely lethal. Fortunately for us, they were absolutely brilliant. I find it difficult to define this band as nothing less than the sum of its parts. Granted, most of the attention is, and rightfully should be, focused on front man Anthony Green. He is a dynamic personality, full of heart, charisma and passion. While one would be inclined to think that after Foxy Shazam nothing could top that performance, you’d only be half right. It would be unfair to compare the two. It would be more analogous to describe him as that feeling that you get when you get into an intense staring contest. You try to blink; you want to blink. Your eyes are burning and at this point tears are streaming down your face, but you can’t do anything. He’s got his hooks in you and you know that he’s going to win. Ultimately, you blink. You have to. It’s that feeling of connection that he does best. You don’t want to look away, but you can’t help it. One minute, he’s gliding across the stage, and the next minute, he’s leaping, head first, into the willing masses. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. That’s Anthony Green, succinctly. He exudes so much passion and charisma that you don’t know if you want to cry in the face of the beauty of it all or if you want to cover your eyes because you don’t want to let him in; to let him get under your skin.
It is, however hard one tries, impossible to have a great actor without an amazing supporting cast. You can’t mistake the presence that the rest of the band have while on stage. Some people are natural extroverts, and some people are more content to be the strong silent type. Separate from whatever their lives offstage might tell you, Colin, Brendan, Nick, and Steve provide the firmest foundation anyone could ask for. There is something beautiful in knowing that you can tell that they have absolute trust in each other. Two bands with two completely different styles and you still have that thread of commonality that runs between them. You can fake emotions; you can fake having fun, but there’s one thing that you can’t fake, and that’s passion. It’s loving what you do. It’s being so in tune with the other people on stage that you become family, and no matter how hard you try to do it, you can’t hide it. That’s what this tour has that other tours that I’ve seen in the last handful of months lacks: solidarity. Listen up and pay attention kids. If you want to know how it’s done, look no further than these two bands. They play with more heart, energy, and passion than any of your Hot Topic nonsense and if you’re starting a band, as most of you are, then it would do you well do take a page from their book.
Count Me Out
Yes Yes Yes