Some concerts require more preparation than others. Going to a Foxy Shazam show isn’t just like waltzing in to some random gig off the Strip in your jeans and tank top, halfway to buzzed and only mildly interested in the upcoming set. Just a gander around the Roxy on Wednesday night proves my point: it’s a sea of glam-rockers shoving their way through the vestibule toward the stage, studded and leathered and ready to be taken back to a glorious time of unabashed showmanship and androgynous sexuality.
Opening for Foxy is a band called Maniac, led by cross-continental duo Shawn Harris (of The Matches) and Australian-born Jake Grigg (of Something With Numbers). Decked out in their loud, oversized shirts, acoustic guitars, and Harris’ floppy hat, they definitely don’t possess the Bowie-esque glamor of the Foxy sect. Truthfully they look like they just wandered off the set of one of Molly Ringwald’s classics, having wrapped up the soundtrack with some of their heavily ’80s-influenced rock.
Named by Alternative Press magazine in 2011 as one of the “100 Bands You Need to Know,” Maniac’s insatiably catchy tracks like “Die Rad” and “Hey Love” had the crowd pumped up for the headlining set (check out their totally fun Extended Play EP here).
I was particularly excited to see Foxy Shazam, as were the rest of the folks in attendance. Their latest hit, “I Like It,” has become a top-played song on Myspace Music Player and the video has garnered over 550,000 views on Youtube. The track, if you haven’t heard it, praises a woman’s backside, a la Queen’s “Fat Bottom Girls,” a comparison I won’t hesitate to make with lead singer Eric Nally’s uncanny vocal (and often physical) similarity to legend Freddie Mercury. Of course other album tracks got plenty of overhead applause, like the raucous “Unstoppable” and “Oh Lord,” as Nally stalled between songs to weave strange tales of his boyhood in Ohio and other adventures in his high, nasally voice.
The highlight had to be when pianist Sky White put his keyboard into the crowd and played on it, followed by Nally’s rock and roll-style lighting of five cigarettes and mischievous puffing of them simultaneously. The act was a far cry from Eric Nally’s offstage persona. I was able to encounter briefly at an after party upstairs, and with his small stature, wide, brimming dark eyes, and drawn-on freckles, he looked every bit the Cincinnati-raised boy. I asked him if “Fat Bottom Girls” was his inspiration for his latest hit, since the group’s sound is so much like Queen. “You know I never thought about that,” he said sheepishly. “But thank you for the compliment.”