The Stone Foxes
Grammercy Theatre, NYC 12/8/12
December in NYC... call me a Scrooge, but the rush of holiday shopping, the bustle of crowds flocking in to skate around a big lit tree in Rockefeller Center, and those incessantly sanguine Christmas shows of nutcrackers and high-kicking chorus lines really make me weary. So, smacked right in the middle of all this holiday brouhaha was an absolutely refreshing chance to check out The Stone Foxes at the Grammercy Theatre's "Ho Ho Ho Down / Santapocalypse" show. There were four bands in this event lineup, but it was this San Francisco foursome who really jingled my Christmas bells.
Touring ahead of their upcoming fourth album Small Fires, set for release in early 2013, the Stone Foxes' one-hour set was a blazing show. They serve up a healthy portion of blues-roots-alternative rock from the first power chord to the last cymbal crash. Raging distorted guitars, deep bass lines, Hammond-B-organ-flavored keyboards, and tom pounding drums harken back to the days of classic heavy metal and Southern Fried Rock, while the group chanting the chorus in many of their songs adds a touch of the best parts of '80s arena rock.
Midway through the set, the crowd picked up as they sang along to "I'm a King Bee," their most popular song, best known as backing music on the Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey commercial. I won't be taking a swig from a whiskey shot glass anytime soon, but boy do I love to hear lead guitarist Spence Koehler sing this tune. The amazingly infectious psychedelic blues song "Psycho" will have even the stiffest listener wanting to head bob, if not break out in a sway.
Shannon Koehler stands out as the clear showman and crowd-pleaser of the band. Whether it's playing drums while standing or breaking away with his blues harp, the jumps, or crowd-blending, Shannon radiates waves of high-voltage joy with every blues-harp note.
It's no coincidence that they opened up for The Black Keys for a leg of the tour earlier this year, so if you like the Keys, you'll love these guys. The Stone Foxes are a powerhouse of energy and fun, and are certain to put on a fantastic show. Check them out if they head your way.