“You’re acting like you’re in the eighth grade,” snaps singer Sam France to guitarist and keyboardist Jonathan Rado in a pause between songs. “Yeah? Well you’re acting like you’re in the seventh grade,” retorts his bandmate.
Far from being an actual onstage squabble, they’re just goofing around. And this band sure likes to goof around. What else would you expect from a duo who named themselves Foxygen (a teenage joke that stuck) and called their acclaimed new album something as ridiculous as We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic? This sort of silliness is to be expected.
Foxygen have been vocal about their intention to inject some fun into the current music scene. In a recent interview with Pitchfork, the 22-year-olds from California spoke out against bands that stand on stage “staring at their fucking pedals”. “I don't see any personality…I want to hear somebody raise their voice or do something wacky,” insisted France.
So here they are. And they are certainly delivering. Jokes, dumb dancing; it’s all there. But the incessant clowning shouldn’t deter from the fact that they are serious about making music. And they are very good at it. With a love of all things sixties and seventies, their ambitious recent album might be clearly influenced by bands such as the Stones, the Doors and the Velvets, but they have managed to twist some of the classic psychedelic sounds of that era in unpredictable and bizarre ways to create something that is more than the sum of their record collections.
Joined onstage by three touring members, there are some great moments in their set. “Shuggie” and recent single “San Francisco” sound good, but then those are two of their more straightforward tracks. At other times it’s chaos. Their terrific, meandering single from last year, “Make It Known”, is shambolic; like a bunch of university students performing it at karaoke after a few too many snakebites. Sure, it’s kind of entertaining, but it’s also a mess.
Much of the crowd don’t seem to mind too much. You only need to see all of the beaming smiles in the audience to realise the band has won them over. But if they can somehow maintain the streaks of idiocy and unruliness while delivering a tighter set that do the songs justice, then they might just be on to a winner.