The stage was set. It felt like Absinthe was seeping in through the woodwork. It smelled like booze and occasionally weed, which fit perfectly with the aesthetic of The Duchess and the Fox. Their attire was straight out of “Midnight in Paris” down to Andrea Diaz’s hair clip and Joe McGinty’s undone tuxedo, which made me feel as if I had stumbled into the shadow of another era. Everyone was on-brand, for sure.
Then they started playing and three songs in, I remembered that I was supposed to be reviewing them and I had better find something to have an opinion on, because nothing really stood out. Especially after seeing the opening acts.
The first opener was Julia Joseph, she played quietly emotional folk songs on her guitar. She quickly sucked me in with the sheer emotion and quiet intensity in her voice. The second act was Grey Mcmurray, who embodied a bombastic contradiction, at one moment beautifully melodic and the next, disturbingly spastic both in the music and in his face, quivering with intensity. Both of these acts were simpler than The Duchess and the Fox, but both demanded attention.
The Duchess and the Fox shone when they told stories and “St. Vitus” was the crowning jewel of their story-telling. The line, “I wish that you could see only the best parts of my life” echoed my own sentiments about life and dating in New York, (I was, in fact, on a date at the time). When they decided to paint with words, it was colorful and electric. And in “St. Vitus”, the music and lyrics perfectly meshed with their aesthetic, so it was easy to get taken in by it. It seemed almost as if with “St. Vitus”, they started with the emotion and story and the Cabaret-quality seeped into it naturally, whereas with other songs, it felt more artificial. “Roam” was also notable for its lyrical gymnastics.
But outside of “St. Vitus” and “Roam”, the drama they hinted at with their attire and setup didn’t quite connect with the songs. It seemed like they should have been getting under my skin, but they remained steadfast on the surface.