Fox Royale and Friends Come to Green Bay (Indie Pop Show Recap)
I’ve somehow never been to the Lyric Room in Green Bay. I didn’t get involved in “the scene” until after college and that meant a handful of dive bars around where I was living at the time. But at request of a friend, I decided to come check out this show. We arrived to find that card was not accepted, and neither of us were carrying cash. After an attempt to use my credit card unsuccessfully at an ATM, I purchased tickets online with no reception and eventually was able to get the ticket email to load for entrance to the show. Patrons were fairly light but focused as the first act took the stage.
Local songwriter Nick Gonnering straddles the line between the pop leanings of John Mayer and the folk bent of Donovan Woods. His sound is rustic-yet-polished, like a barn turned to a wedding venue. He was certainly the odd one out of the the night’s roster, but his talent was still evident, especially in the melodic tags he tied into his guitar lines.
TREY, forgoing name and promo pictures, was actually a full-band performance. The electro-pop sound is similar to groups like The Band Camino, Phangs, and La Bouquet. It also conjured memories of seeing EXNATIONS, who, unsurprisingly, have also played with TREY. While the live sound was immersive, with intricate guitar swells, tight drums, and energetic bass, I found the recordings to be much more restrained. Many tracks swap their full-band experience for programmed arrangements instead, a couple tracks due capture the live feeling a bit better. Regardless, I’m keeping an eye on TREY for a new EP due later this month.
Fox Royale is a puzzling band. Two keyboards pair with a hybrid drum kit and traditional rock instrumentation. Two vocalists trade off lead responsibilities, with all four bands providing harmonies and backing vocals. It’s a sound that feels at once familiar yet difficult to find a comparison. Good Kid? Driver Friendly? Windsor Drive? Modest Mouse? There are elements of all of these groups, but there’s something about the vocal timbre that stands out particularly – though I can’t place it. The band in their current incarnation only has three songs out, but part of their setlist came from the period when the quartet operated under the Guys On a Bus moniker. Many of the songs have powerful lyrical themes around mental health and interpersonal communication, but these serious sentiments are conveyed with a sense of levity, even comedy, and an incredible stage presence. Even on a small stage, there was plenty of energy to behold. Each song had a different lighting set up. A few songs saw all four members cluster together over a single light to provide a bit of a campfire interlude. And by the end, the crowd was starting to cluster around the stage.
Turnout grew as the night went on, and given it was a Wednesday night show that started at 8:30, it’s hard to have huge expectations. The crowd was mixed in terms of age, status, and background which is a testament to the unifying power of art (and alcohol). It’s been a while since I’ve been to a weekday show (specifically, the aforementioned EXNATIONS) but I’m glad I went. The sound and lighting were great, which is great as an attendee and concert photographer. I’ve seen some venues manage both of these poorly, and their event list tends to reflect this. Inversely, it’s not hard to see why the Lyric Room has a steady stream of events on their calendar. I’ll be keeping an eye on these artists and will definitely visit this venue again.