Riding the weekend wave with Gabriella Cohen & Foxygen


Sometimes you just gotta ride the wave of the weekend a little longer. This Sunday night was definitely a case of that. Music fans who weren’t quite ready to say goodbye to the weekend yet turned out for Gabriella Cohen and Foxygen at the First Ave Mainroom. It was the perfect way to close out a lovely spring evening weekend in Minneapolis.

Kicking off the evening was Australia-based Gabriella Cohen. Those with a pulse on the music scene might have seen Gabriella Cohen’s name floating around the blogosphere in recent months.  I definitely fell in this category – I have seen her name buzzing around, recognized her as the frontwoman for The Furrs, but other than that didn’t know much about her most recent project. Last night I finally had the chance to catch her live last night and thank goodness I did. Her set started with just Gabriella and Kate ‘Babyshakes’ Dillon on stage singing a duet after bowing to each other before the rest of the band joined them.  After watching Cohen’s flawless set, I see why she’s been grabbing the ear of the Twittersphere and blogosphere. Gabriella Cohen and her 4-piece band effortlessly cool vibe complete with Aussie accents is enough to strike envy into the heart of any American (which are basically just less cool Australians). Cool points asides, from the moment Cohen opened her mouth, she had the Mainroom hooked. She kicked off her set with an acoustic song, supported by backing vocalist and keyboardist Kate ‘Babyshakes’ Dillon. Their harmonies throughout the the set were absolutely chilling. Dillon definitely shines on keys as well, with church-organ effects that almost have a haunted-house theme music feel on some of the tracks. Arun Roberts and Danni Ogilvie round out the Cohen quartet on stage, bass and drums respectively. There was a pleasant cohesiveness to Cohen’s set, which was roughly 35 minutes. Gabriella Cohen’s set featured tracks off her debut album Full Closure and No Details, which was released earlier this spring. I think it’s safe to say Cohen and her bluesy, psychedelic rock tunes gained some fans in Minneapolis last night.

Making a triumphant return to First Avenue to headline the evening of course was Foxygen. The last time frontman Sam France was at First Avenue was not probably one of his favorite memories. The last time Foxygen was slated to play the Mainroom, France actually fell off the stage when he slipped on a loose monitor and broke his leg with a compound fracture.

Though there was no shortage of dancing from the ever-eclectic and engaging frontman last night, there were no broken bones, thank God. “No wonder he broke his leg last time!” some guys next to me remarked as everyone basked in the glory is France’s live stage presence.

From the moment he took to the stage, like a character straight out of Saturday Night Fever, bell bottoms, sun glasses and belly shirt, every eye was locked on France. He crooned through track after track like a true showman, proving Foxygen every bit has still got the elusive “it.”

“Hello! Thank you for coming, it’s so great to be back,” France said at the beginning of the set. “Oh. And hello to everyone at the dining tables,” pointing to the people seated at the highly coveted balcony dining tables, “Those people are classy. You guys are great,” he went on pointing to everyone standing in the crowd, “but those people are classy,” giving a wave again to the balcony. France and the rest of Foxygen are absolutely charming live. Backing vocalist Jackie Cohen is the yin to France’s Yang. They were so dynamic as duo, dancing in unison, and just playing off each other’s energy. Watching Foxygen’s live set is truly a performance. They are so theatrical as a band, but not kitchy, just fun and feel good music, reminiscent of another decade in time. Foxygen’s band includes a full horns section – trumpet, tuba, trombone, all making for a dynamic and engaging live set. “Thank you for letting us play out new stuff! And our old stuff, it’s all good,” France said with his signature swagger.

Foxygen has been making music for over decade, but like a fine wine, keep getting better with age. They did not disappoint at the Mainroom last night, with nothing but dancing, smiles and good vibes all around the house. It felt more like a Saturday than a Sunday night, which hey, the weekend always feels too short. Foxygen is currently touring in support of their new album Hang, which was their first release in almost three years. Their set perfectly blended new and old, making for yet another memorable evening of live music in the Twin Cities. a

Set List: 21st Century / San Francisco / Shuggie / Follow The Leader / Avalon / Mrs. Adams / America / On Lankershim / Upon A Hill / Trauma / Rise Up Encore: On Blue Mountain / Make It Known / No Destruction / How Can You Really