Foxygen, Unknown Mortal Orchestra @ Urban Lounge 03.19

Posted March 22, 2013 in
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Flower children Foxygen exuded high-level energy during their set at Urban. Photo Angel Ceballo

My sleeping schedule is usually not very concert-friendly, as I tend to sleep and wake at the same times as my nephew, who is 2. (On lucky days, naps are included.) On nights like Tuesday, though, despite having work early the next morning, I was delighted to go out for the evening with a couple of radical bands and a few more radical friends.  

Foxygen delivered such high energy to the show that I would've felt pretty stoked seeing only them had the show taken some sad turn of events and Unknown Mortal Orchestra bailed. This was my first time seeing or even hearing Foxygen, and I am completely sold on their sound. Their performance reminded me of Spindrift, if instead of incorporating the Western themes of cowboys versus Indians, they would embrace the ’70s styles of bands like The Mama's and the Papa's. Being from California makes their Haight-Ashbury psychedelia fitting. Their song, "San Francisco", is even reminiscent of the hit, "I left my heart in San Francisco", their lyrics slightly altered as they sing, "I left my love in San Francisco". Foxygen is primarily made up of Jonathan Rado on the guitar and keyboard, and Sam France on vocals, but they add anyone that they "think is glamorous" for their live shows (according to their Facebook page). This time included Lizzy as a backup vocalist and Justin on bass. Their interaction with the audience translated well, as people started dancing, bobbing and yelling along soon after their first song. With their chaotic psych-rock and a high energy performance, these folks are definitely worth seeing live. I dug that all of them were thrilled to be performing, and they played hard, pounding their grooves with a fun intensity. "Teenage Alien Blues" is a testament to this balance, and I really got down to "Make it Known". 
Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s performance paired well with Foxygen, but there was certainly an element of tightness to UMO's set as compared to the nutty performance by Foxygen. Both sets were rad, though, with a lot of beats conducive to grooving. I was happy that my previously mentioned hypothetical sad turn of events did not really happen, as Unknown Mortal Orchestra took the stage and started with "Opposite of Afternoon", a highlight on their new album, II. What most impressed me throughout their set was that the band only has three members: Ruban Nielson does the singing and lead guitar, Jake Portrait was on bass and Riley Geare took over the drums, and they still managed to create melodies with rich complexities that made my ears happy little buds. As an underwater lover myself, I was thrilled when they started playing "Swim and Sleep (Like A Shark)". Nielson sings, "In that sweet cool darkness/ asleep, and constantly floating away" as though he's thought about this as much as I have: how sweet would it be to fall asleep underwater? I think about this constantly, so it's nice to have a jam about it that I can groove to. I was also charmed hearing them play "So Good At Being In Trouble". It was cool that they balanced well their hits from their new album with their previous self-titled LP. I'm pretty sure the tune to "Ffunny Ffrends" was injected straight into everyone's bloodstreams, as I went outside and everyone was still humming and singing along to it.  Even now, a couple days later, I’m still stuck on it.
Flower children Foxygen exuded high-level energy during their set at Urban. Photo Angel Ceballo