The Stone Foxes’ guitarist Spence Koehler moved to San Francisco in 2004, wide-eyed and short-haired, to live on-campus while attending San Francisco State. Unbeknownst to him, he would meet fellow band mate Aaron Mort a short time later to form one of the most solid and thrilling rock bands to emerge from the roots and streets of San Francisco. I should know. I was his RA once in the dorms at SFSU.
The Foxes have been around for several years, and all of our old co-workers, friends, and former roommates have seen the band – expanded to now include Mort, Koehler’s brother Shannon, singer Avi Vinocur, and a long mane on Spence – kicking around the city’s venues and climbing up the ranks in billings on posters as well as increasing the size in venues played. Everyone, that is, except me. Somehow for six years I missed witnessing Spence’s band come to fruition, even though I listened to their records.
Last night at the Independent, night three of Noise Pop was a homecoming of sorts, as well as the perfect introduction to what the Foxes are about – and what I have missed. The latter is a tight, well-tuned machine of Americana rock and blues that bursts at the seams live. Harmonicas and tambourines make an appearance; everyone shares vocal duties; people in the front row jump up on stage and tackle Mort halfway through a song. The nod to the yore of the 60s, as well as comparisons to The Black Keys and garage duos, is evident in the music, true. But it’s tracks like “Beneath Mt. Sinai,” from their debut album, and a cohesive smoothness on 2010’s “Bears and Bulls” that make the Foxes stand out. The chants, the guitar solos, the cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” as an encore. The set was strong and brilliant start to finish, and it was the best introduction I could have asked for.
Spence, I’m so sorry it took me over half a decade to see your band. Forgive me?