Alternative indie band Foreign Air perform at EXIT/IN after their three-year hiatus to give devoted fans a sneak peek at their recently released album, “Hello Sunshine.”
native of philadelphia Anna Shoemaker shook the stage on their very first tour as members of foreign air stood among the littered crowd at EXIT/IN on September 6. Audiences were drawn to the guitar riffs and youthful lines that flowed confidently from Shoemaker’s lips.
Such a line stayed with me; Shoemaker sings “I can organize my life, but I don’t want to”, in his song “Change My Mind”, acknowledging the power of young contemporaries to recognize and solve their problems while basking in the chaotic mess of it . everything.
After opening, there were only about 20-30 people present. All approached the stage with anticipation as Jacob Michael and Jesse Clasen, accompanied by their longtime collaborator Luke Adams, took the stage and immediately immersed everyone in the room with heavy bass, dark melodies and moody vibrations. The foreign air had entered the room.
They played the first song without much farewell: “Blue Days,” a number about the madness of isolation and critical self-reflection. The lights turned to a pale blue and the crowd listened to the new song with the lyrics “I feel so rearranged, it’s like they cut me to pieces and put me in a suitcase.”
This song is also the opening track of their new album “Hello Sunshine”, released on Saturday September 10th. However, fans had gotten a taste of “Hello Sunshine” with the release of the single “Night at the Zoo”. on the album at the beginning of last summer. Drummer Luke Adams spoke a bit about the band’s songwriting process in an interview with The Hustler.
“‘Hello Sunshine’ was a compilation of songs from the past two years that ranged from everything from writing sessions in LA to New York to DC,” Adams said. “It kind of brings together all kinds of different musical genres, which is really fun.”
Since the timeline of the writing process for this album coincided with the pandemic and resulting pauses in the live music scene, several songs reference feelings of hopelessness and pent up frustration. These emotions were also reflected in the preparation for the hard-hitting production of the backing vocals. Especially in “Anything is possible”, feelings of nihilism raise the question: “Is this real or are we dreaming?” before the climax hits with repeated lines from the song title.
In their journey as a band for 3 years, Adams also talks about the evolution of their style, building on their repertoire with different sounds and vibes.
“There are songs that are definitely more electronic, a harder kind of electro music that’s more indie-based,” Adams said of songs like “Night at the Zoo.” “The new stuff has more indie-rock instruments, a little more fully acoustic, a little more naked, that it’s been fun to come back to.”
Foreign Air songs recall Atlantic Hunt and other alternative artists who have tapped into the indie-rock-electronic genres effectively and cohesively. During their time together, Michael and Clasen have definitely harnessed their synergy to produce music that can serve as a soundtrack for anyone who wants to feel like they’re walking around town in an early 2000s movie.
While performing, Clasen shared an anecdote about “Dum Dum,” a song from the band’s previous album, “Good Morning Stranger.” The song features layers of pitched and stacked vocal melodies singing “dum dums”, which gives a Christmas carol feel to the track.
“I was living in Los Angeles at the time I filmed my role [for the “Dum Dum” music video], so I’m in a full green screen suit, right? Clasen reminded the crowd. “So my door is like *boom boom boom boom*…I answered the door in a full green screen suit and blonde wig with sunglasses. I think I scared the guy. He was asking where his iPhone was. I said, ‘No, I don’t have your iPhone, man. Get off my porch please, you’re scaring my cat!'”
For their first major production live show in three years, Foreign Air captured the eyes and ears of audiences for the duration of their hour-long show. Their stage presence exuded charisma as they connected with the few who showed up to enjoy the show, and the crowd shared the energy.
“There are energies that you get when you do these live shows that we haven’t done in a long time, so it definitely fills you up and makes you feel good,” Adams said. “To see fans singing some of the old songs and then introducing some new stuff is really cool.”
The group ended the show with “Free Animal”, the first song which they released on SoundCloud in 2016 and a track that was immediately wanted for commercial use for big brands like Nike and Microsoft. Some dedicated fans in the crowd had tears streaming down their faces as Foreign Air ended the same way it started – a full circle moment indeed.