Typical Toronto in late June, it is muggy, post rain and humid. I avoid the impending hair frizz as much as possible and head to downtown staple Lee’s Palace.
I heard Foxy Shazam initially 4 years ago while staying in Brooklyn. Quickly they became the overplayed song of our car and my friends and I consistently chimed in union with the tracks. “Keep on keeping on.”
It’s my first time to Lee’s which is surprising. I’ve made my way around the downtown clubs (even Holy Joe’s/The Reverb before it burned down) but never yet to the 2 story alternative haven in the heart of the annex.
One of the best venue layouts I’ve seen. Club geographics are tricky things. Enough space to dance, enough space to sit, intermediate ground. Lee’s checks all of the above and then some.
It fills up quickly but not with the crowd you’d expect. There’s a strong rockabilly vibe filling in and I don’t get it….until the opener comes on stage.
I have never seen a crowd so crazy for an opener. Not Cyndi before Cher, not Mars Volta before The Chili Peppers. Never.
Larry and His Flask, in all their moonshine rock folk punk goodness. I’m quickly won over, bobbing with everyone else (actually everyone else was basically bouncing off the walls) mainly because I seem to be a sucker for anyone that shouts “Banjo time!”
They are energetic (understatement), well rehearsed, engaging, full of gritty bluegrass lyrics but the contrast to the workout gear wearing, mustache touting, drama of the headliners is more than a little off.
The break is made. The crowd changes over ushered in by smooth jazz over the sound system while color coordinated pink mic stands are set up by one of the most thorough roadies I’ve seen.The band comes on.
"20 bucks says nobody here can kill me."
If you’ve seen the music video to Oh Lord, if you’ve seen Lessons with Foxy Shazam, if you’ve seen their UK tour update, you think you have a pretty good idea what you’re getting yourself into.
I was so unprepared.
Like David Bowie on acid and every lost scene of Velvet Goldmine.
If there is a mic trick frontman Eric Nally cant do, I haven’t seen it.
They open with the title track from their ambitiously self released, produced and one room recorded in running order and free to download album, Gonzo. Despite only being released in April the crowd is shouting back every word.
If you don’t like pelvic thrusts and aren’t a fan of the cover of the Scissor Sister’s album Night Work, you wont like this show.
For the many that in the past compared the sound readily to Freddie Mercury now have that comparison ripped right out of their mouths.
The look has shifted, the sound has changed but the campy sexuality and larger than life package remains the same. Lyrics sung out in Tragic Thrill match the sentiment “I’m finding out who I was, who I really am”.
The aggressively optimistic lyrics, “If you know what you want, stay where you are…If you don’t know what you want, then shut your mouth” showing the range to hint on the tender tones matched back to back with the darkly sharp chorus of Have The Fun.
Nally calls for singles from the merch stand. He’s shredding and tearing, showering the crowd in money confetti.
But to call him the star is not only wrong but unbelievable. From the chanting from bare chested horn player Alex Nauth, the cape wearing of Schuyler White, the completion between Loren Turner and Daisy Caplan and the intention in Aaron McVeigh, it’s not a place to call favorites.
They stop mid way for an intermission costume change.
Nally challenges the crowd again. This time for cigarettes. Packages litter the stage and he shoves multiple in his mouth and lights up from the crowd.
Tearing apart the clothes he just changed into.
Fan favorites of past albums are played with their splashy horns and bounce. Then back into more off the new album.
"This song’s about time travel….I wrote it next week."
Ending as they opened in a wave of fantastical theatrical confusion as the most quotable concert I could attend.
"Remember kids if the world didn’t suck you’d fall off."
Fozy Shazam had kept on keeping on.