The Best Show you Didn’t Know You Missed
Foxy Shazam makes The Marquis beg for more
[Ed. Note: Before we get to the article, it's my duty to mention that our fine fellow Richter Von Deaton is tweeting music news @SoundsofDWA. Give him a follow for the latest Denver and national music tidbits, and to soothe the sorrow in between his bigger Donnybrook posts.]
Current music has always been dominated by one kind of hipness or another. Some shade of cool, whether the slicked-back greasers of yesteryear or the half-lidded “hipsters” of earlier jazz. But no matter the cool, there was always something fun hiding under it. Even if in jazz it was all heroin black and wreathed in smoke.
I say “was”, because these modern times have me down with our particularly brown and greasy version of hip. What’s “in” is so often so moody, boring, and uninteresting that it barely merits the hours of auditory wading that one now has to do to stay current. We’re so caught up in moping—and not even evil or poppy way—that I’ve taken to listening to classic Black Metal just to buoy my spirits. And if that doesn’t tell you something about the state of affairs, I don’t know what will.
Enter the opportunity to experience something the opposite: Foxy Shazam at the Marquis. If the 21st century hipster doldrums are Uma Thurman with a nose full of horse, Foxy is John Travolta with a big fucking syringe of adrenaline. This is band that hearkens back to the tightest of leather pants and most bang-alicious male haircuts. Before being cool clashed with fun—in fact, a time when having a ridiculous amount of fun was the epitome of being a rock star. And after one too many strung-out starlet muttering slurred verses into a gallon of reverb, it was just what I needed.
Arriving, the doorway to the Marquis once again proved transportative, checking vestiges of seriousness at its edge and sinking remnants beneath the hull-cut ceiling. I walked among the atypical and well done-up. I made the very adult decision to wear ear plus, which automatically made me the least cool person in the room. But by the end of the amp-crackling orgy of fun, I was more than grateful to have added at least a year to the life of my hammer, anvil, and associated parts.
Colfax Speed Queen began the night. From Denver, a little bit Prince and a little bit Buddy Holly. Imagine that being punk was fun and not so angry. This is that. Dressed in a sharp-necked red shirt buttoned to throat and gripping a Gibson Firebird, M. Loui led the set as they rocked persistently. Mere moments into their mid-tempo sonic catharses you sense the underlying desire to just fuck the world (in a non-sexual sense). It’s around this time you realize the name has nothing to do with going fast, and everything to do with being strung out on speed. On Colfax. As a band, it’s an ethos that they appear to follow, seeing as how it’s nearly impossible to find any kind of info on them. While I was enthralled, good luck finding out when they’ll play next.
In between sets the crowd was serenaded by Third Eye Blind, which everyone sang furtively under their breath. It seems there is no crowd where Third Eye Blind is not well received.
The Foot. took the stage with an extra member’s weight in curly Blake Anderson hair, and brought a slightly more professional approach to the evening. Between the hair, flair, and bass-playing singer, I expected The Foot. to start their set with “Big Bottom”. But no. Some distorted bass tapping, and a second tune played in a version of 7 brought musicality in contrast to the looks of them. Singer Jeff McCollister bopped around on stage shaking a spaghetti bowl of hair in pure, Animal-esque frenzy. Their sound was a mix of Queens of the Stone Age funk jazzing straight-ahead classic rock, but tunes like “The Huntress” seems at odds with the aesthetic. Somehow pop choruses clashed with the overall demeanor of retro fun. Then again, there is an A Cappela tune on their Reverb Nation page. And this is the kind of show where“Woh-ho-ho-ho-hoh, woh-ho-ho-ho-hoh woh-ho-ho-ho-hoh, woh-ho-ho-ho-hoh woh-ho-ho-ho-hoh, woh-ho-ho-ho-hoh yeah-a-hah-hah”
are entirely acceptable lyrics. So maybe they just know their audience.
At last the kings of the evening came on stage: Foxy Shazam. A broken-footed Alex Nauth crutched out and took his seat on a small stool, lifted his trumpet delicately and played a soaring, impressive jazz rendition of the Jurassic park theme. At the end, the rest of Foxy took the stage with the energy of a hot tub full of gay cocaine. And…this is officially the closest you’ll get to Queen Show this side of heaven. It’s what the Darkness wishes they were. (Sorry lady in the crowd with their t-shirt on.) Theatrical, unusual, and wholly beautiful. As soon as the set begins you’re taken back to an era where musicians were great at music instead of aesthetic. And in spite of clear classical training, they had no interest in the evening being dull.
Where to begin. The whirling transitions between knee-bent howling and back-arching ecstasy? The moment where Eric Nally jumped onto Loren Turner’s shoulders and started humping the back of his head? One song degenerated into Nally beating the mic against his mouth as he sang. He talked about voting for an imaginary Foxy Shazam Lego set, and how he told his dad “Hell no motherfucker” when asked if he’d bite the elder’s toe off for $20. I’m pretty sure one of the guitar players was wearing a shirt with a picture of himself on it.
If this sounds fantastically strange, you’re still only 10 minutes into the set. It says something about a band if they can engage an audience while the singer hardly looks at them, and Nally did just that. Staring determinedly at the back wall, chugging water, or at one point pouring a whole tall boy down his body in a sloppy drink, Nally gyrated and moved with passion unparelled. But never mind the mess. Neat freaks would come alive at the Marquis. Even the purest priest, upon hearing Foxy scream “that’s the biggest black ass I’ve ever seen” would sing back full-throated “and I like it. I like it.”
Finally, toward the end of the set Nally called out in his self-mocked falsetto, “Somebody give me a bunch of cigarettes”. And people gladly did, throwing their smokes all over the stage while he ignored them and sang, eventually plucking 6 from one proffered pack and putting them all in his mouth. Beckoning a light from the crowd, he lit them and smoked the fist-full while he finished the song.
You really couldn’t ask for a better ending. Most nights Nally eats the lit cigarettes, but perhaps tonight he was feeling “tame”. Minutes later, the keyboard player put his keys up on his shoulder and walked off. Nally stared at the crowd hollow eyed and said “check”, paused, stared some more, and finished with “mate”. He dropped the mic from shoulder height and headed for the door. Nauth followed behind in exit, a bookend for the night, and crutched as quickly as he could into the bright, dark hallway behind the stage.