Foxygen brings ‘Star Power’ to farewell Chicago show

Foxygen lead singer Sam France wowed the crowd at the Metro during the band’s farewell tour show on April 9.

By Arts & Culture Reporter

As severe thunderstorm warnings made their way through Chicago on April 9, a different kind of chaos hit the stage at the Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., in the best way possible thanks to Los Angeles psychedelic band Foxygen.

After a few years of drama between founding members Sam France and Jonathan Rado, the band announced last month that its current tour would be its last. Despite several show cancellations, France breaking his leg and reported disagreements within the group in 2013, the band still released its third studio album, …And Star Power, in 2014.

Rather than dwelling on the melancholy news of the band’s final Chicago show, France and Rado put on a thrilling performance, making sure the psych rock-duo went out with a bang.

Before the duo made its way to the stage for its current lineup consisting of touring members being referred to as “…And Star Power,” the band’s faux moniker, Columbia senior radio major Andrew Smith set the tempo for the free-flowing night ahead in a brief stand-up routine. The 21-year-old comic won the audience over with his deadpan wit that set the tone for the night.

Preceding Foxygen’s entrance, opening act Australian electronic musician Alex Cameron caught the audience’s attention with a performance that could only be described as hypnotizing. With his synth-based backing tracks and nothing more than a trusty saxophone sidekick, Cameron mesmerized the audience with his car-mechanic romper wardrobe and a performance reminiscent of the band Future Islands. Although not along the same lines as Foxygen’s well-known sound, Cameron’s confident stage presence fit right in with the other performers.

After the opening acts, the Metro audience was eager to see Foxygen’s chaotic performance—and the band definitely did not disappoint. They opened with “We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic” from the band’s breakout sophomore album of the same name. Lead singer France pranced around the stage, doing a spot-on impression of a young Mick Jagger. Accompanied by Rado on the keys and a backing band—including three show-stealing backup dancers—Foxygen put on a show worthy of its grand Chicago finale. If there was any drama among the band members, it was not evident on April 9, as the band played one of its best sets to date.

Unlike many other bands, Foxygen’s Metro performance was more of a variety show than a flat-out rock show. What started as a show with a church revival vibe turned into an all-out jam before the band left the stage for a quick intermission and wardrobe change. Returning to the stage about 10 minutes later, France did his best “Tonight Show” monologue, complete with hacky jokes about Rahm Emanuel’s reelection and David Lynch leaving the “Twin Peaks” reboot. Following that, Rado and France reminisced about playing in France’s mother’s basement back in the band’s early days. It was a sweet moment to witness for one of the band’s final performances together.

The unexpected standup jokes and banter amused the audience, but the band kicked right back into the music with a stellar performance of its breakout track “Shuggie” from We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic. The band brought ‘60s nostalgia to the stage with its lyrics about a peaceful San Francisco landscape.

Although the band has had its fair share of turmoil and drama throughout the last couple years, none of that was evident with its strong Metro set—the chemistry of the soon-to-be broken-up band was there from start to finish. As France crooned the lyrics to “Everyone Needs Love,” singing “We can make it together/ We can change the world, it’s true,” it was a bittersweet end to the band’s final performance in Chicago. 

It is sad to see a band with this much talent and chemistry end its run so soon, but there’s no doubt this duo will “shine on” in whatever they do in the future.