Aquarium Drunkard: No Jacket Required Showcase - Mercury Lounge - October 16, 2012
It’s that time of year again, when the weather gets cooler, the leaves start to turn and I somehow deceive myself into thinking I have the willpower to stay away from the candy corn I bought for Halloween. You guessed it—the CMJ Music Marathon is back, and artists from around the world have already begun to descend upon us for the most glorious five days of music New York City has to offer. Here’s what CMJ entails: bands play a slew of shows, trying to squeeze in as many gigs as possible into the short period of time that CMJ runs. In response, venues endeavor to stuff as many sets as possible onto one bill. Bands get onstage, play their 20- to 30-minute set and move on to the next venue. And that can be frustrating; just as you start to warm up to a group you like, they pull the plug and exit the stage as fast as possible.
But at Aquarium Drunkard’s No Jacket Required showcase last night at Mercury Lounge, Foxygen found a way to skirt the rules. After a solid set by Calvin Love, the talented solo act from Edmonton, Alta., Foxygen set up their equipment in a flash and hit the stage a full 15 minutes before their slotted set time. That eagerness epitomizes their energetic showmanship: If their most recent record, Take the Kids Off Broadway, sounds like a shaken-up bottle of soda ready to explode, their live show is what happens when someone finally unscrews the cap. Sonically, they resemble your dad’s favorite classic-rock compilation but reinterpreted in a highly frenetic, almost hardcore vein. It’s incredibly familiar while being undeniably fresh, and it came together perfectly in the intimate setting.
Lead singer Sam France’s mania emanated throughout the venue—he screamed, gestured and shook as if he had been possessed by some sort of rock and roll demon. At one point he asked, “Is it satanic?” about New York City. And judging by how riled up everyone was, it very well might have been. His band and the enraptured audience fed off of each other, and even stage banter received hearty applause and various yips from appreciative concertgoers. By the end of the set, after several full-fledged musical freak-outs, the demon of New York City had apparently been exorcised from France’s body—but I wouldn’t be surprised if it appears again later this week. —Alex Kapelman