February 24, 2011
By Amy Powell
The Independent is packed. It is February 24, 2011, the second official night of San Francisco’s 18th annual Noise Pop Festival. Tonight, four bands will take the stage at the recently remodeled Independent – Voxhaul Broadcast, Ferocious Few and The Soft White Sixties and The Stone Foxes. It is pouring rain outside (snowfall is predicted tomorrow), yet the party crowd inside is vibrant and alive.
Like clockwork, each band leading up to the headliner plays a 25-minute set, and the set change is complete in 7 minutes. It’s just 11:20p and The Stone Foxes (Aaron Mort – guitarist, Spence Koehler – guitarist, Avi Vonocur – guitarist & bassist, and Shannon Koehler – drummer) take the stage. The four young boys are from California, met in San Francisco, and started playing together in 2005 to create (what is now) a thriving rock band. Their adolescent style screams hip, grunge, sexy-cool. Their music yells, “This is it, we know what we’re doing!” But their presence is awkward.
The Foxes are a band that have not yet learned the importance of stage presence –each band member stands lonely on stage, minus the drummer who is positioned directly behind guitarist, Koehler. The boys have not learned how to engage the audience or each other throughout the performance. They are a band that does not entice the audience to watch.
This aside, after I close my eyes and just listen to the music, I “see” a completely different band – a sophisticated rock n’ roll band that demonstrates the music I hear. I hear a band whose sound is well thought out and precise. I hear a band whose talent is humble and compassionate. I hear what could have been an up-and-coming rock band my father listened to in the 50s. Yes, this is it, and we’re listening.
To close the night, drummer, Koehler displays his diverse talent with a radical, loud and unconventional rap on the harmonica. The band and crowd are pumped up. Microphones are knocked from their stands, and a wet t-shirt is thrown into the audience, and all their fans are cheering. The stage lights dim for a mere minute as the band walks off, and back on stage. They play one more song for the night – a cover of “War Pigs,” by Black Sabbath. Classic.
I look forward to watching The Stone Foxes play live in a few years. Their music is there, but their appearance is not. Here’s to a successful evolution into the future. Go get ‘em boys!!