Robert Finley & Foxy Shazam at Varsity Theater
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I’ve spent some time this morning trying to find the date of the last time I saw Foxy Shazam live but, sadly, I can’t find it and, when I was younger, I didn’t know the importance of keeping notes on all of the amazing shows I saw. Long story short, it has to have been nearly two decades since I saw Foxy Shazam back in my hometown of Des Moines, Iowa. I don’t remember much from that show but do remember being completely enamored by this band. From their sound to vocalist Eric Nally’s onstage antics, it was true love at first listen and my obsession with this band has never faltered so when they announced that they would be playing the Varisty Theater in Minneapolis on Friday night, I did the only thing I know how to do. Grabbed a couple of friends and dragged them along to one of my more anticipated shows in the foreseeable future.
Robert’s soulful vocals were just enhanced by the amazing band and backing vocalist supporting him.
I was both surprised and not surprised as the opening act took the stage. Robert Finley is a bit of a legend now that I do some digging into his past this morning and, although I didn’t know anything about him as he took the stage on Friday night, I kind of got that vibe. A seasoned musician, the 68-year-old (happy birthday to him as he just celebrated his birthday this past Sunday) had no trouble instantly captivating the modest yet excited audience who had braved the bone-chilling temperatures to come out to the show. Robert’s soulful vocals were just enhanced by the amazing band and backing vocalist supporting him. I’ll be honest, although it wasn’t the type of music I would listen to in my free time, seeing him perform with the sense of joy and life he had was absolutely the perfect way to kick off the Friday night show. From his hip thrusts throughout his set to his just astonishingly smooth and beautiful vocals, he had me and the rest of the audience in the palm of his hand throughout his forty-minute opening set. Had he continued to play for a few more hours, I don’t think you would have heard a single complaint from the audience. Everyone was just so into it even though they weren’t there to see him and it led to a magical set.
The anticipation was real as the stage was turned over for the one and only Foxy Shazam. The crowd was exactly what I was expecting– it wasn’t huge, but it was mighty. The people at the show knew Foxy Shazam, not just “that one guy with the weird voice who did vocals on “Downtown” by Macklemore” (spoiler alert– that was the singer of Foxy Shazam). As soon as the band took the stage, that anticipation exploded into excitement and that feeling reigned supreme throughout Foxy’s all-too-short nineteen-song set.
Whether a new or old track, Eric Nally’s distinct vocals soared above the just-as-distinct instrumentation in a perfect way.
Kicking off the set with the anthemic “Unstoppable”, the entire floor burst into a dance party within the first note and, much like the excitement floating in the air, the dance party didn’t end until the final note of “The Only Way To My Heart…” was left hanging in the air of the beautiful Varsity Theater. Although it has been years on years since I saw this band live, not much has changed with them. I know there have been some line-up changes but just seeing vocalist Eric Nally and keyboardist Schuyler White on stage was enough to put my head in that cloud of nostalgia that I am constantly looking for. From the way Eric just could not stand still at any point during the set and was constantly running and dancing around on the stage to the two moments where Schuyler had the audience hold up him and his keyboard so he could play from the crowd, it was as if no time had passed at all.
Full disclosure- although I adore this band, I constantly find myself listening to their old albums and just ignoring their new stuff. Maybe it’s that nostalgia-seeking heart of mine of the familiarity of the old songs but, regardless, I loved how their new tracks do feel a wee bit more mature without losing the signature sense of fun and funky that is Foxy Shazam. Whether a new or old track, Eric Nally’s distinct vocals soared above the just-as-distinct instrumentation in a perfect way. Sure, their music and the overall sound are a bit wacky but, when you cut it down, it’s really amazing musicianship, and being able to see that laid out right in front of you is an amazing experience.
Could Friday night have been any more perfect? I mean, sure, they could have played longer and played their entire discography, that would have been sick but, the answer is no. Being able to get lost in a cloud of nostalgia while dancing your heart out like fools with some of your best girlfriends and smiling so much that your cheeks hurt when you wake up the next day– Friday night was one of those shows that will be stuck in my head for some time.
Venue: Varsity Theater
Average Age of the Crowd: 35
Crowd Surfers: None
Mosh-ability: 6 out of 10
Sausage-Fest Meter: 7 out of 10
Stage Divers: None
Amount of Beer Spilled On Me While Walking Around: $0
Broken Bones: None Noticed
Spotted Flying Through The Air: A Piano and Piano Player (although they weren’t really flying but it was something), A couple of cups
Fights: None Witnessed
Idiots Taken Out By Security: 0
How Many Times I’ve Seen These Bands Before (or at least how many times I can remember):
Robert Finley: 0
Foxy Shazam: 1
Celebrity Sightings: None
Overall Score: 10 out of 10
Show on Deck: Scary Kids Scaring Kids / D.R.U.G.S. / Secrets / Dead American / Glasslands