By Matt Arena
Energetic is a word used to describe of a lot of bands. Some convey it by bouncing around the stage like jumping beans, others are able to establish an energy merely with their presence. On a rare occasion youâ€™ll get a band that can do both. Multiply that by about ten, have it take some Molly, and youâ€™ve got Foxy Shazam. They move around more intensely (and fabulously provocative) and with more stage presence than most bands could ever dream of. Lead singer Eric Nally stands still for maybe about 1/100th of the set, as heâ€™s too busy flailing, flipping, and dancing his ass off the rest of the time. Of course all this would mean little if they didnâ€™t have the musical talent to back it up, which they do. Not only the well crafted booty shaking alt-rock tunes they belt out, but how they manage to do so while pretty much tossing themselves around stage for 45 minutes is always baffling.
Touring with Slash, they brought their funky spin on rock nâ€™ roll to Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City this past Tuesday. Playing a number of songs off their latest album, The Church of Rock and Roll, and the past two LPâ€™s before it, they left quite an impression on the crowd. Coming out to the titular track â€˜Welcome to the Church of Rock and Roll,â€™ the pounding, chanting trumpet anthem announced their arrival perfectly. The blaring trumpet blasts (and well timed crotch thrusts) from Alex Nauth and the manic keyboard stomping of the magnificently bearded Sky White added two elements that arenâ€™t often present in modern rock bands. The bipolar nature of Nallyâ€™s voice gives the band an even better dynamic sound, too. At times glass shatteringly shrill, at other times a thundering low, it allows him to pull off the shrieks and screams just as well as the lower parts in the songs. Tracks like â€˜I Like It,â€™ â€˜The Temple,â€™ and â€˜Holy Touchâ€™ show off not only the wonderfully crafted bombast of their latest album, but how well the songs translated live.
Of course it wouldnâ€™t be a Foxy Shazam show without a nice banter with the crowd. Many times Nally just rambles like a madman, telling hilarious stories that somehow end-up relating to the next song. But there were a couple people in the crowd none too pleased with Foxyâ€™s set. After hearing a shout from the audience, Eric Nally paused in between songs to ask, â€œDid somebody say we suck? Who? It was you?â€ after the rude audience member gladly shot his hand up. They railed back at him, and with his greasy hair stuffed under a stars and stripes bandana, it wasnâ€™t all that hard to. â€œWoah, nice bandana bro. Fuck yeah, America. How about I come down there and shit in your face? Iâ€™ll do it too.â€ Of course at this point, they had the entire crowd on their side, because there isnâ€™t much else more cheer-worthy than someone hitting back at a heckler. Then after teasing the next song, â€œThis next song is about my favorite flavor, chocolate. And my favorite size, big. And my favorite color, black. This song is about being caught in between a bed, and a woman,â€ and with a perfectly timed air hump pantomime, they launched into â€˜I Like It.â€™ At this point in the set it became pretty clear they not only had won new fans over, but brought a pretty decent following with them. People jumped, danced, and sang along to the irresistible chorus, totally drowning out the already silenced naysayers. By the end of their set, they left the stage to a roar of ovation from the crowd, who had pretty clearly been wooed. In a time where most bands tend to take themselves too seriously, itâ€™s refreshing to see a band like Foxy Shazam bring an incredibly stylized, over-the-top version of music to the table.
It was my baptism into the Church of Rock and Roll, and I like it.