Written by Krystle Griffin. Photos by Heather Krut.
Let me set the stage. The year was 2011, and one of my most beloved bands, Circa Survive, was on tour once again, and, I, the unwavering fan, searched and secured a ticket to a place in a faraway land called Allentown. A glorious venue that once was a beacon of rock, The Croc Rock, would become home for one evening to a trio of incredible talent. On the bill with Circa was Anberlin, at the time an already familiar earworm, and a band I had yet to hear about, Foxy Shazam. Nowadays, if a band is unfamiliar, it’s pretty easy to find every piece of information ever known about them on the internet. But 2011 was still a time I wouldn’t have thought to scour the internet. I went in blind.
What took place next could only be described as my stigmata. A religious experience that transcended me into other dimensions filled with strange metaphors and fictionalized stories about camping, a little boy named Julian and grizzly bears. The crowd itself went through its own metamorphosis, too, and by the end, it was a zoo! Swept up in what I have been repeating since this very day as one of the very best performances and showmanship one could ever witness. Every cell in each band member’s body was infused with nuclear energy; not a single moment they spent on stage was left abandoned. Dancing, jumping, head standing, crowd surfing (with a keyboard!), cigarette eating, bewitching tomfoolery of the most sacred kind.
For a couple of years after, I would catch whatever show I could of theirs when they were close to the tri-state area. Then, one day, on the Face of Books, a sadly tragic announcement was made. Foxy was no more until an unknown future. And my heart cracked. For years, I would mourn, speaking about this elusive band and how absolutely incredible it is to see them live. No record or YouTube video would suffice. It simply must be witnessed.
Then, one magical morning in 2020 – a sentence that should not make sense yet still does – from the darkness emerged a light. An announcement of Foxy’s return! Through smoke and smog and a trend of bands coming back for reunion tours, hope was born.
Which brings us to October 1, 2023! It appeared on the upcoming shows list at Underground Arts in Philadelphia, and my entire being froze. Staring at the marquee, I felt my younger self rejoice. I knew it would be a show that could not be missed, and the night itself not only confirmed but reaffirmed my soul-bounding love for this band.
The show began with a delightful opening band called Lady HD. Philly natives, the four-piece looks like a collection of genres. Each member has a very distinct style that, when looked at, may make one wonder if they even go together. But the combination is magical. Self-described as psychedelic pop, and it was the exact thought I had when watching them. Once again, going in blind to the opening band and being pleasantly surprised. They reminded me of the kind of lovely piece you’d stubble upon at West Philly PorchFest. I highly recommend lending them your ears!
Then, the main event took place! Opening with “Unstoppable,” and they undeniably were unstoppable, from beginning to end. The crowd, a beautiful, rejuvenated excitement, belted out every single syllable along with Eric. A moment that felt long awaited. Each member looked ready. As if they went to training camp and returned a well-oiled machine of entertainment. With a boom and a honk, they exploded onto the stage. They moved as if their bones couldn’t stop the rattling rhythm. From “Yes! Yes! Yes!” to “Oh Lord” to “Bombs Away” to “Ghost Animals” to “Holy Touch” and beyond, the setlist was curated to make it impossible not to move.
Speaking of movement, I also wondered briefly beforehand if we would see some of their bag of usual tricks. A silly use of thought, because my friends, they brought them all! Schuylar testing the ever-defying feats of strength that are the first few rows of the crowd and crowd surfing with his keyboard, standing on the keyboard, Eric’s constant moves, headstand and snacking on cigarettes, and not to be forgotten Teddy and Eric’s antics on the drums that includes a helmet. Alex blew us away while also providing incredible backup vocals and energy. Trigger Warning and Devin kept it moving with both of their guitars and fancy footwork. They were every bit of sparkle as they have always been!
To take us home, the last song and maybe one of my most favorite songs of ever, “Only Way to My Heart,” begins to wash over the crowd and in a connected moment, I felt us all be reborn in the church of Foxy. While we may not be the wild zoo animals we once were in that shrine of Croc Rock, we were together. Collected in the palm of Foxy’s hand. Even the bits I heard afterwards were endless praise of awe at what we had just witnessed.
Foxy truly knows the only way to our hearts is with an axe…And all the nasty things they do.