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Foxygen’s foxy men

Goofballs Sam France and Jonathan Rado reveal their groove and immaturity at Pitchfork.
Foxygen performs at Pitchfork Music Festival, Sunday afternoon in Chicago.
Image by Bridget Bennett
Foxygen performs at Pitchfork Music Festival, Sunday afternoon in Chicago.

It was easy to tell that Sunday was going to be the best day at Pitchfork Music Festival when a crowd was already forming at noon to see the day’s third act, Foxygen, playing at an early 1:45 p.m.

The fans were not disappointed.

Two songs into the set, lead singer Sam France had already climbed high up the scaffolding on the side of the stage (the only artist to do so), bashed his drummer’s cymbals with bare hands and inadvertently gave the audience some plumber’s butt when his pajama pants fell down.

France’s physical antics were mirrored by the music that Sunday — much crazier in person.

Their 2013 album, “We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic,” is a fuzzy throwback piece, at times mirroring the sound of early Rolling Stones, the bluesy folksiness of Dylan instrumentation and later acid-washed Doors material.

Off that album comes their best-known song, “Shuggie,” a lazy track with vocals that waft over the hook like the smell of fresh baked bread.

While the thread of psychedelia still shined as bright as the sun that Sunday, Foxygen had a more pronounced alt-noise sound live — less acid, more PCP and booze.

In fact, the sun was so bright that keyboard and guitar player Jonathan Rado had to take extra time between songs since he couldn’t see the readings on his tuner.

This gave them some dead airtime to riff.

“It’s so bright,” Rado said. “My feet are hot.”

“Oh, it’s so bright,” France mimicked.

“Fuck you, Sam,” Rado said.

“Fuck you, Sam,” France echoed.

That interaction, and those that followed, would have eclipsed the actual set for those not into what Foxygen were serving and, while in good fun, might have been the sign of something deeper.

“We have too much band drama,” Rado said after the set, refusing to elaborate.

But during Foxygen’s freewheeling performance, it was all goofiness. Since they were in M.J.’s home city, Rado took a moment to mention how much he loves “Space Jam,” asking audience members with smartphones to check out how the original website hasn’t changed since the release of the film in 1996.

It really hasn’t.

Over the course of the 40 minutes, they took time to thank ATMs, ESPN, President Barack Obama, AOL, Red Bull, Batman, The Roots and Wilco.

With all the nonsense during the set, some would slam Foxygen as immature.

But then you see them take the time to chill on the grass with reporters and fans alike, signing autographs, answering questions and smoking cigarettes in the afternoon heat when they don’t have to.

Foxygen: they’re still amazed by their success and inexperienced with being known offstage.


What: Foxygen

When: 8 p.m., Monday

Where: First Avenue Mainroom, 701 N. First Ave., Minneapolis

Cost: $13 advance, $15 at the door

Ages: 18+

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