It’s funny when a musician apologizes for a flawed performance, then goes on to engulf you in a sonic whirlpool of excellence so effortlessly precise that it leaves you questioning the boundaries of human capability. Maybe that sounds a little far fetched, but when Black Foxxes’ guitarist and vocalist Mark Holley’s confessional, raw soundscapes so clearly connect with each member of the audience despite his insistence that he “can’t sing properly”, the allusion that you are witnessing a sub-standard performance is hard to comprehend.
Naturally, they began their set with ‘Husk’, the fuzzy, primary single off new album I’m Not Well. Albeit a beautiful version, they chose not to perform their softer, recently released ‘alternative’ version of the track. But the urgent, accusatory nature of the original is just infectious, and projects itself tenfold live, thus setting the tone for what goes on to be a captivating, full-throttle display of skill and emotion, right to its naked core.
A curiously unique breed of band, Black Foxxes truly find their strength in their honest vulnerability. There is power in their pain, something that allows them, a three-piece band to deliver a sound so rounded and so amplified that though just one album deep, no stadium would be too big. Songs that don’t jump quite so high on record pulsate with robust emotion live; ‘River’ phrase “Do I see a hunger, or do I see a thief” ripples through the Joiners, the poetically ethereal words cocooned by piercing bass and a distorted guitar solo supporting it.
By the time the suspenseful tones of ‘I’m Not Well’ play in mid-performance, the air is thick with incredulous respect. Like, do they play like this at every show? How does Holley flip his own lyrics on their head and transform seemingly discouraging content into a challenge, one that he accepts with every angst-filled blast of energy he delivers on-stage? Just like the perfectly timed pivotal lunges performed by bassist Tristan Jane, Black Foxxes are a captivatingly idiosyncratic talent; not to be ignored, and impossible to forget.
Words by Georgia Balson