The Diamond Ballroom: a rundown building that once must have a been a rollerskating rink or something of that ilk. Driving up to the dirt parking lot, it was hard to imagine how glorious the night was going to be, thanks in no small part to Foxy Shazam.
The first band was a local band called Jumpship Astronaut. They sound checked their own equipment and walked on stage looking like any other concertgoer, if not slightly more presentable. The band was comprised of a singer/guitarist, two synth players, and a drummer. The sound was very reminiscent of something that would be drifting around the airwaves in the 1980’s. The synths worked in perfect harmony together with the steadfast dance beats. The vocals made young girls and older women alike swoon. After their 30 minute set, they announced that they would be giving out free demos. Half of the crowd bolted for the merch table to grab these homemade demos until they were all gone.
The second band, Stars in Stereo, also checked their own equipment, all except the lead singer. The lead singer walked on stage after the grungy band started playing an upbeat pop punk riff. Shocked and interested to see a female lead singer in a band, I was sorely let down when she played off sex appeal. The only person that seemed to enjoy them was around 40 years old and wearing sunglasses indoors. It was not bright and he was not blind. No excuse. The drummer was skilled, but the over-enthusiastic guitar player (who looked like Ryan Gosling after a couple run ins with the law) kept make terrifying faces at the crowd as if he was going to eat your eyes out of their sockets. The lead singer kept doing silly moves that she learned in an entry level cha cha class as the other members tried to stay out of her spotlight. The other guitarist had a mohawk and was wearing an aggravating amount of guyliner, and the other members were unmemorable. Honestly, they sounded like a mix of Avenged Sevenfold and Paramore. They did play a cover of “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails, which distracted everyone from their other sub-par songs, but in the end no one really wanted to listen or catch the picks that they were constantly throwing in the crowd.
Finally, after that band walked off the stage to mild applause, it was time for Foxy Shazam to play. The lights went black and the whole band came onstage. Eric Nally, the iconic lead singer, controls the stage like no one I have ever seen. They started with “Welcome to the Church of Rock and Roll,” played with such excitement that it was hard to focus on just one person out of fear of missing something. They perfectly segued into “Holy Touch” which was played with just as much energy. This energy was so contagious that it was hard for people to not want to jump up and down and wave their arms wildly in the air. Describing a Foxy Shazam concert is so impossibly hard. Words cannot capture Eric Nally’s constant movement and charisma, or Alex’s gyrating while playing the trumpet, or Sky Vaughn White’s keyboard moves and facial expressions. It’s something that truly has to be experienced.
However, there were definitely some high points. Eric Nally, during one of the songs, stood on his head and just kept singing like it was normal. Sky Vaughn White sent his keyboard into the crowd and began to crowdsurf on his stomach while playing piano. Eric slowed down the ending of “The Rocketeer” for “the women and the gay men.” During the song “I Like It” (which is about Eric’s “favorite flavor…chocolate”) the bass player and trumpet player stood on the drum riser and did a booty dance. The show went by so quickly and the set list was so far from important to me because of how amazing the stage show was. After an hour of Eric’s stories, crazy stage performances, and funny one liners, Eric asks for a pack of cigarettes and a lighter (during the ending of the song “Freedom”). I had only heard of this, but never seen it. He shoved every cigarette in his mouth at once, lit them all, took them all out, and shoved them all in his mouth ash side first. Yummy. Cigarettes. After his snack he ran to the drum kit, put the ride cymbal on his head and let the drummer play it. After the final note Eric slams the cymbal on the ground and everyone leaves the stage but him. He picks up the mic and says (paraphrasing), “Nothing is over without a fatality.” He slams the mic on the ground and walks off stage. That was it. The night had ended that abruptly. All that was left was the aftermath of sweat, broken cymbals, and equipment strewn all over the stage.