San Francisco natives The Stone Foxes returned to Seattle’s High Dive, nearly packing the venue that usually stands empty on a Sunday night. From the first notes played, the audience was clearly entranced and captivated. Moving quickly across the packed floor some fans danced, others clapped along, and some stood in awe of the power and cohesion this band exhibits on stage. One thing that was common amongst all in attendance is they participated and with the Foxes’ manner of stage antics and banter this is an all too familiar scene, albeit a good one. They delved into songs from their upcoming album due out this fall and old favorites from 2010’s Bears and Bulls with fiery aim and persistence. Performing with a focused energy; the band, once a trio, then a quartet and now with the addition of keyboardist Eliot Peltzman, who joined just over a year ago, four strong again. They mixed-matched instrumental duties and vocals- having as much fun on stage as the crowd was in the pit.
Though pegged as a blues band akin to The Black Keys, the ‘Foxes have evolved into something else entirely. Showcasing many new songs, The Stone Foxes use their range and genre bending allure to dip into a broader sonic palette. The music from their mostly blues based previous albums stood as a jumping board in which they were able to delve into deep compositional rock songs, and flirt with hyper new age psychedelia with ease. Not taking this next sentence lightly, comparing them to a modern incarnation of The Band would be more accurate.
Peltzman’s keyboard/Rhodes playing ranges from lush texturing to a gritty substitute for bass guitar, when bassist Aaron mort switches over to the drum kit. Vocally they came across raw and uncensored in the best of ways, with different tones to each of their voices; they harmonized beautifully and took turns up front with the mic. While their two previous albums have been monsters of the blues-rock genre they have always been a band in evolution and this is most evident by their live show which takes their studio songs and turns them upside down. If their studio work is healthy baked cake, then their live show is the frosting. Brothers Shannon and Spence Koehler typically tackled the bluesier cuts with their old time hoots and howls while bassist Aaron Mort’s tarnished snarl could almost be mistaken for Rod Steward circa 1970’s.
Some of the notable tunes that they played this packed Sunday night were the crowd inclusive “Stomp” from Bears and Bulls. “Small Fires” with chugging guitar and bass lines it builds up to a peak of sonic climax, until Spence’s lone guitarmanship dropped an irresistible blues riff, followed by the organ-like Rhodes playing of Peltzman and the crashing drums of Shannon. The song then reverts back to its steady groove, Koehler’s psychedelic note bending and use of effects pedals results in some of the most impressive instrumentation of the night.
The band wrapped up the night with more of the heaviest rock and rollers in their arsenal. Most notably a crunchy, distorted reinterpretation of “I’m a King Bee” by legendary blues-man Slim Harpo. There is never a dull moment at a Stone Foxes show, and Sunday night proved no different. The High Dive was full of smiling faces and the band had just found a room of new converts.