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When we invited Foxing to NPR HQ, we wondered how the band's big sound would translate to such a (forgive us) tiny space. Would Foxing bring a bagpiper to recreate the shrill accent it snuck onto its latest album, 2018's Nearer My God, or try to replicate the cathartic energy of its live shows over the hum of computers and fluorescent lights?
Not quite. Instead, the St. Louis-based group brought the same sense of purpose to its Tiny Desk arrangement that's impressed us across its three full-length releases. Performing to larger audiences with each new album, Foxing is at the forefront of what's referred to as "emo revival," a term for today's crop of bands heavily influenced by late-'90s and early 2000s groups like Sunny Day Real Estate, Cap'n Jazz, American Football and others. But with each new LP, Foxing's ambitions reach beyond the genre's boundaries, incorporating broader inspiration.
For its Tiny Desk, Foxing spotlighted three standout tracks from Nearer My God. The quieter instrumentation pushed singer Conor Murphy's starkly confessional lyrics and shattering delivery to the forefront, especially on the set's opening song, "Slapstick." And even with minimal amplification, the swelling chorus of the title cut "Nearer My God" is just as impressive as performed during the band's explosive concerts.
For this performance, Foxing expanded its numbers, bringing a saxophonist and a couple of string players to accompany the band's touring lineup — and somehow, we managed to fit everyone behind Bob Boilen's desk.
- "Nearer My God"
- "Grand Paradise"
Conor Murphy: lead vocal, guitar; Jon Hellwig: drums; Ricky Sampson: guitar, bass; Eric Hudson: keys, vocals; Brett Torrence: bass; Caeleigh Featherstone: vocals, keys; Gabriel Valle: violin; Nathan Sander: viola; Jordan Pettay: alto saxophone
Producers: Lyndsey McKenna, Marissa Lorusso, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Bronson Arcuri, Kara Frame, Beck Harlan; Associate Producer: Bobby Carter; Photo: Claire Harbage/NPR