The line formed early for The Sounds’ Monday-night gig at the Hub, which was a fortunate thing, because the real show was over by the time the headliners even took the stage.
The Sounds do a fine job picking up where Gwen Stefani left off when she decided to make horrible hip hop music instead of just borrowing licks from Blondie, but by the fifth or sixth song, everything began to run together. I kept thinking of what song I wanted to hear next, only to realize that I was actually thinking of either a No Doubt song, a Blondie song or a Shiny Toy Guns song.
The real problem is not that The Sounds is a bad band. Quite the opposite, in fact. The group is spunky and fun and managed to keep the oddly bro-tastic crowd moving for pretty much the entirety of its 75-minute set. It’s just that after the mad fury of Foxy Shazam, pretty much any act would seem like a bit of a letdown.
I’ve been to over 100 concerts in my lifetime, and I have never seen anything quite like Foxy Shazam frontman Eric Nally. He’s the kind of guy who wears a pageboy haircut and week-old facial hair that makes him look like a bizarre hybrid of Freddy Mercury, Demetri Martin and Mick Jagger. He’s the kind of guy who talks in the voice of an effeminate cartoon character while spewing filthy jokes… the kind of guy who can wail lyrics like “Life is a bitch / But she’s totally, totally doable” in a song that he introduces as something he would like to sing to God at the pearly gates. And he’s the kind of guy who can get away with doing all of this in front of a crowd who has absolutely no idea of who or what Foxy Shazam is. I can scarcely imagine what he looks like when playing for the home team.
Nally began the set by asking what state he was in. For a second, he sounded genuinely confused. Moments later, he took a running start and leaped into the crowd face first as the night’s opening song began to play. This type of absurd reckless abandon characterized the manic set.
The Ohio-born sextet is the band that Eagles of Death Metal wishes it could be. It’s got horns, synths and ridiculous falsetto vocal arrangements for miles. The band exists comfortably in the space between Meat Loaf and Reel Big Fish, winking at the audience while remaining completely sincere.
Everything about Foxy Shazam is dorky. It’s the kind of rock music one might expect to come from an inside joke made during an all-night session of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s all hipster references and cheeky Jim Steinman-style wordplay. It shouldn’t work, and it definitely shouldn’t make members of the greek system starry-eyed, but that is exactly what happened.
Slowly but surely, Nally and his band of merry men won over the incredulous crowd. His first call and response from the audience was nearly a complete failure, but by the end of the set, the band had won scores of new fans. Random patches of dancing even broke out.
Later that night, The Sounds took the stage and rocked the house, but as the theater emptied, I didn’t hear a single comment about the headliners. I did, however, hear several sorority sisters gushing that they got to touch Nally’s hand.