“Roses are red, violets are blue. Foxy Shazam, baby. Fuck you!” – Eric Nally, Foxy Shazam
Eric Nally, charismatic frontman of Cincinnati rock outfit Foxy Shazam, has always had a way with words. “The best advice I can give you is if you ever feel lost, the best way to not be lost is to very simply change where you were going.” This is what Nally expresses very carefully to the crowd at the Bowery Ballroom in New York, NY before diving onto the floor as his band launches into “Holy Touch” from 2012’s Church of Rock and Roll.
Certainly, Nally speaks from the heart. Their latest Steve Albini-produced release, GONZO, sees Foxy Shazam as a band that is changing the way they’re going in order to find themselves again. They dug deep, shaved their facial hair, traded bedazzled jackets for purple turtlenecks, and found primal art within their theatrical persona.
Touring in support of their latest release, Foxy Shazam has turned their show into a two part act. The first half showcases GONZO in full, and as much as they reached deep down inside of themselves on record, they dig just as deep on stage. Draped in purple, Foxy charge forcefully through GONZO with newfound focus and grace. There’s a raw power to these songs that comes to fruition in a live setting. “Brutal Truth,” “Shoe Box,” and set closer “Story Told” are quite poignant and sound better than they do on record.
After a short intermission, Foxy Shazam reemerges as the band we knew before: shirtless, sweaty, and hungry for another rowdy audience. The colors on stage are brighter, and Nally is more talkative again. The band kicks off the second set with a raucous rendition of “Bombs Away,” off their self-titled release. As they plow through favorites like “Oh Lord,” “Yes Yes Yes,” and “I Like It,” the band sounds as tight as ever, and Nally’s voice remains strong. The highlight of the night goes to “The Only Way to My Heart,” one of Foxy’s best songs in their arsenal. During the song’s crescendo, Nally, pianist “Sky” White, and trumpeter/back-up vocalist Alex Nauth wretch, stomp, and sway like skeletons in high wind. As a strobe light flashes in back, it all becomes a very surreal experience, which is on par with a typical Foxy Shazam show.
Foxy ended their show with the glam-anthem “Unstoppable.” As they left the stage, the raucous crowd was loudly pleading for more, but to no avail. The band never reemerged for what would’ve been a natural way to perform an encore. But that’s okay… always leave them wanting more, right? Foxy Shazam has always been known for their wild live shows, but up until now, they’ve been taken for granted. We came to expect the cigarette eating, rambling jokes, and microphone flip tricks, and they delivered like puppets on a string. Coming into this tour after releasing a demon-cleansing album, nobody was sure what to expect. We hoped, but didn’t expect. How could we? Thankfully, after their utterly fantastic Bowery performance, it’s very clear Foxy Shazam is a confident band that is no longer lost; they’re finally in control of where they’re going.