Foxing brought ‘Nearer My God’ to life at Bowery w/ Ratboys & Kississippi (review, pics)
Conor Murphy kept saying on stage at Bowery Ballroom last night (9/4) that it was, for them, the best show Foxing had ever played in NYC, and I’d say that was true from a fan’s perspective too. From the early days, they were a powerful live band, but their live show never fully translated to their albums. That is, until this year’s masterful Nearer My God, which is a force of its own that rivals Foxing’s live show in its intensity, and this was Foxing’s first time in NYC since the album came out. The combination of their already-established talents as a live band, the new songs, the addition of a keyboard player, and the thick hues of their new light show made for an experience that was truly larger than life.
After walking out to Enya’s “Only Time” playing over the PA, Foxing started their set the same way Nearer My God starts, with “Grand Paradise,” and as on album, that song is a hell of a opener. It starts out a chill, synth-fueled song, and at the moment Conor screams “I’M SHOCK-COLLARED AT THE GATES OF HEAVEN,” the whole band takes the intensity level from a 6 out of 10 to a 15 out of 10, and Foxing would return to that level many times throughout the night. After “Grand Paradise,” Conor took a minute to speak about the new album, thank openers Ratboys and Kississippi, and encourage the crowd to not let this be the last night they listen to those bands. (We agree. Both Kississippi and Ratboys have very good new-ish albums, and they both sounded great last night. It’s also nice to see a bill which is not only not all dudes, but which is musically diverse too. Between Foxing’s art rock, Ratboys’ punk-ish alt-country, and Kississippi’s pop punk-ish indie rock, no band on this show sounded the same as another.)
Then Foxing took a moment to play a couple songs from their previous album, the more subdued but also excellent Dealer, before getting back to the Nearer My God stuff. The Dealer songs tend to be Foxing’s calmest sounding songs, and though I find them to be superior to the crowdpleasers from their debut (“Rory” and “The Medic,” both of which were played last night), they never used to reach the heights of the earlier songs in a live environment. But the playing field shared by Foxing’s three albums felt a lot more level last night. “Rory” and “The Medic” still got fans riled up but those songs didn’t steal the spotlight from the rest of the set by any means. “Night Channels” from Dealer, which was played later on, emerged as a huge fan favorite, and the new songs made for many of the show’s highest peaks. You could hear a big crowd singalong going on during “Bastardizer,” Nearer My God‘s title track sounded built for venues nine times the size of Bowery Ballroom, watching Eric Hudson play the guitar solo of “Lich Prince” live was stunning, and the spastic “Gameshark” managed to be one of the most hypnotic and one of the most high-energy songs in the setlist. It was played right before set closer “Rory,” and it wasn’t overpowered by “Rory” one bit. After “Rory,” Foxing wasted no time exiting the stage, and instead of an encore, they started a venue-wide dance party to Cher’s “Believe.”
In addition to praising the openers several times during their set, Foxing had another very powerful special guest to praise. In the middle of their set, they brought out a man from NYC’s New Sanctuary Coalition, an organization fighting unjust deportation and the separation of immigrant families, and he gave a very moving speech about how he was almost deported but was saved in part by the many protesters at the airports that day. The crowd cheered him on throughout his speech, and after he left, Conor encouraged us to not just cheer but really get out there and help, and he suggested visiting their merch table, where they had sign-up sheets to volunteer and help save immigrant families.
Foxing’s tour continues in Philly tonight (9/5) and runs through the end of the month. You can check out a few pictures of the Bowery Ballroom show in the gallery above, and the setlist and a few video clips below.
Nearer My God
Three On A Match
photos by Carly Hoskins