I knew from the minute that I stepped foot in The Summit in Columbus, OH last night that it was going to be an interesting stop on tour for Foxy Shazam. Having seen the band perform in a number of venues over the past few years, I knew that there was exactly no chance in Hell that the six-inch tall stage and two sub-standard PA speakers would ever be able to sufficiently handle the unrivaled lunacy that comes standard with the purchase of every Foxy ticket. This place seemed like the kind of dive that you might be lucky to catch the guys at on a night off, but they couldn’t actually be expected to perform at such a venue, could they? I was sure that I would need to be sufficiently inebriated in order to make sense of entire situation, so I strode up to the bar, snagged a few complimentary Genesee Black Labels, and stepped back to watch things unfold.
As Cadaver Dogs, Hollerado, and Free Energy warmed up the crowd, who’s anticipatory buzzing showed no shortage of enthusiasm for their home-state heroes, rumors began to fly about supposed confrontations between Foxy and the gig’s promoter and a few brazen gossip-spreaders even informed their friends that the group were not planning to show at all. At just after 11 o’clock, it was time for Foxy to take the stage, but with instruments tuned, microphone levels checked, and the sold-out crowd boiling in a heated fury, there was still no sign of the band members themselves. A thundering chant of “Foxy! Foxy!” resounded from the throats of hundreds of manic fans, but still failed to draw any movement from the green room door which remained curiously still, although I distinctly remember the walls bending and quaking with every eruption of the hungry crowd, although those Black Labels were begin to take affect by now which certainly played a significant part in my recollection. Thinking that the band may have developed some sort of pre-show blood drinking ritual or daily Christian Science prayer circle since the last time our paths crossed, I crept down the crowded hallway and poked my head into the green room, not sure what I would find on the other side.
What I discovered was a room full of anxious band members and a nervous anticipation so thick I was sure my skull would collapse immediately from the sudden change in pressure. In the middle of it all stood Eric Nally, lead singer of Foxy Shazam and a man who clearly had his hands full with this headlining show on the verge of near-certain implosion. I quickly tried to diffuse the tension with a joke and stepped directly across from Nally in the six-person conversation circle. He quickly ran through a clearly-abridged list of incidents that had occurred surrounding the show and revealed that the band had, in fact, threatened not to perform.
“It’s just been a whole lot of…” Nally trailed off.
“Bullshit?” I offered, not sure how to read him, wondering if I had interrupted the band’s pre-show mental exercises or helped to distract from an rather unnerving evening.
“Bullshit,” he responded matter-of-factly. Nally was clearly on full alert, not necessarily shaken but jumpy in the sense that he didn’t know what the night might choose to deliver next.
Suddenly the door swung open and Foxy’s tour manager gave the official show time announcement. In the blink of an eye the troops assembled, ripping and snorting like timber wolves preparing for a pack-hunt, and I had to jump back to avoid getting swept up in the sudden rush of kinetic energy. Wielding his microphone like a bayonet, Nally charged forth with his band of misfit warriors and The Battle of Columbus began.
Within seconds the singer found himself three rows deep in the crowd, belting out as many lyrics of “The Only Way to My Heart (Is With An Axe)” as possible. The set list was heavy on tracks from their self-titled major label debut, but the group bestowed a few rare nuggets to the crowd including a recent b-side, “Dog In Love With A Kitty” and an unexpected cover of the Misfits’ classic “Hybrid Moments,” thrashing through it all like electrocuted hyenas but with the surgical precision that only develops from years of toiling on the road. Then, about two-thirds of the way into the show, it happened. The moment that turned the tide of the night. Nally pulled out the heavy artillery. Fed up with the shoddy microphones and inferior sound system, he announced to the crowd with typical bombast:
“If guns were legal, the promoter of this show would be dead by now.”
The band quickly tore into their single, “Unstoppable,” but the gates of Hell were now completely open and the crowd had clearly lost all control their voluntary muscle functions, instead sloshing together in a frothy mess. As far as the eye could see, teenagers smashing and crashing like electrons, bones clattering and the whole goddamn mass crashing down on the stage in a waves of liquid humanity that seemed to never end. Foxy moved through two more tracks from their most recent album before retreating to the relative safety of the green room, but despite just being thwacked in the face with forty-five minutes of unapologetic rock n’ roll, the crowd were desperate for closure and Foxy had one more treat for their minions.
The band sprinted back to the stage and took their respective spots, two-thirds of the band now naked from the waist up. Launching into “No, Don’t Shoot” from their 2005 debut LP, the band exhausted every last possible drop of life in their mortal beings, allowing the first four rows to overtake the stage and engulf the band members who impressively held fast, becoming one entity with the throbbing mound.
And as quickly as it had started, the show was over. Witnesses trudged through the debris and bone splinters toward the exit, trying to find words to describe the unearthly splendor they were just made witness to. I wandered over to Foxy’s merchandise table to find the promoter screaming in the face of the group’s unwavering road crew, a group of seasoned veterans who rival anyone in the business in work ethic and professionalism. The promoter was clearly wound up beyond any rational thought, raving wildly about gun violence and death threats, demanding that the band tear down their merch rig and move the whole operation outside onto the rainy sidewalk of Summit Street. What he failed to realize was that, by hysterically blathering on about fearing for his safety, he simply perpetuated the Foxy mystique. Although he may have never actually brandished a firearm in his life, Nally is a dangerous man. He’s a dangerous, dangerous man, and the kids love him all the more for it.
I stood in the rain for a minute, watching a pack of teenage born-again Foxy fans clamor amongst themselves to thrust cash money in the face of a mustachioed man with knuckle tattoos on a poorly lit street corner at quarter to one in the morning, wondering if their parents knew where they were at that moment. Opting not to simply rob each of them individually as they walked away, I smashed the bottle of beer I stole from the green room over an iron gate and ran off full-speed into the night, in search of a few more Genesee Black Labels.
By Alex Mosie
The Only Way To My Heart (Is With An Axe)
Dog In Love With A Kitty
Count Me Out
Bye Bye Symphony
No Don’t Shoot