If rock 'n' roll had a baby and that bay was schizophrenic, its actions would most likely be represented in the stage presence of Alex Cameron and Foxygen. The two groups played at the Fox Theatre this week, and I witnessed the entire episode.
When we arrived at the theatre there were only a handful of attendees, which I found odd since Foxygen has such a strong following. This did not stop opener Alex Cameron from putting on a solid set. A native of Australia, Cameron and his bud Roy stepped on stage, Roy sitting down in a chair at the front of the stage, Cameron turning on a beat machine resting on the stage floor before singing in a David Bowie-esque voice over Rhythm Ace beats and Casio keyboard riffs. There was no introduction or communication with the audience, only the eerie-echoed splashed sounds of rock n roll filling the empty theater.
Cameron and his bud Roy have a stage presence unlike any other. Roy wore a suit reminiscent of the 1980s and sat the entire set with a look of boredom as Cameron maintained his preset music and maneuvered the right half of the stage with pop-locking Elvis Presley movements. Cameron was wrapped in a very tight-fitted mechanics uniform with a chunky, leather member’s only jacket. His mod boots tied the outfit together quite nicely.
Cameron’s songs are beautifully constructed, with simplistic melodies reminiscent of David Bowie and Dirty Beaches with well-written lyrics, most of which have funny inclinations but sad undertones.
On stage, he plays the nervous, neurotic artist, while his counterpart Roy has the calm, I don’t give a fuck cool dude attitude, known for taking it easy and never sweating the small shit. When Roy isn’t drinking he’s laying down some sweaty sax.
Australia is in the middle of a renaissance, and Alex Cameron and his bud Roy are no exception to the rule. Watch out for this duo, I have a feeling they will be making some big moves in the near future.
After a short intermission, Foxygen took the stage in an electrifying non-stop whirlwind. The group now consists of nine people: a drummer, two guitarists, bassist, keyboardist, lead singer and three back-up singers. Their act was evocative of 1960s stage shows, similar to Tina Turner and James Brown, except replace the soul legends with Iggy Pop and/or Mick Jagger.
Foxygen's set also reminded me of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. The majority of the band members have an androgynous look to them, and the lead singer, Sam France, initiates a trek through a schizophrenic, teenage angst state, full of high levels of testosterone, at times threatening the audience with microphone stands, shortly thereafter striking feminine poses in a calm and elegant manner.
Foxygen represents the millennial generation to a tee. It is not set on any type of style, music or idea, instead moving through the halls of influence, taking what it pleases, sharing gratitude to their inspirations as well as tearing them down, as if to say, "Nothing really matters. Be in this moment of chaos with us." In the second half of the set, the band began playing “Let It Be” by the Beatles, which surprisingly sounded terrific. To me, to cover a Beatles tune is to dig your own grave, but Foxygen pulled it off with dignity. As the tune progressed, the band cut if off unexpectedly, shifting into the next song, giving a glimpse of a love for that era of song-writing as well as a disdain for the ethics of music.
In the middle of the set, the band's members took a wardrobe break, re-entering the stage in an entirely different alignment of fashion from the one they'd started with, which represented more of a vampire clan, like something out of the film The Lost Boys. Now, they were all mismatched, depicting different eras of fashion from 1960s rock groups to 1980s pop to the 2015 indie scene. Foxygen finds space to poke fun at the idea of being an individual.
The back up singers had choreographed their contributions to the set, gyrating nonstop for the full hour, bringing a level of excitement and energy to music I have not seen in many years.
The band ended the night with an encore of “Every One Needs Love” from its third album …And Star Power. This is supposedly its “farewell tour,” and when August comes Foxygen will call it quits. For this fan, I can only hope this is not true. The vitality and universal song-writing that empowers this band is too satisfying to end abruptly. Though it would make some sense, going out as quickly as it came in, a mad group of rockers in a fiery ball of confusion.