Sunday, September 22, 2013
Oxford prog-rockers Foals played to an adoring crowd of fans at Metro City last Sunday night. Last in the country for the Big Day Out, their only two additional shows that time were both in the Eastern states, leaving WA fans wanting. The lads certainly made up for it however, and their audience lapped it up, in a cacophony of lights and sound.
Opening the night were tracks such as This Orient, Olympic Airways, and the second single from their latest album My Number. These tracks: all with a similar energy, got the crowd pumped, and the band regularly got them to carry the performance with only drums as backing. This energy continued throughout their set – never really taking a breath or a slower track.
Foals’ trademark sound: similar in elements to bands like Bloc Party, is refreshingly modern. Often labeled as indie rock, this trademark energy and sound is difficult to pin down – there were elements of funk, hard rock, dance and punk, all mashed together. In particular songs like My Number, with its driving dance bass riff, was both different and interesting, paying homage to older styles but making something definitely new.
What really gave Foals their edge however was frontman, Yannis Philippakis. Throughout the gig Philippakis provided consistent energy, crowd surfing and playing off the crowd’s enthusiasm. Towards the end of the set, during Electric Bloom, Philippakis left the stage to walk through the crowd to the bar, stole a beer from a patron, then danced for a little while on top of the bar. He returned to throw his mic stand in the crowd – to the dismay of on-looking roadies.
Philippakis’ stage presence was met by his ability as a muso: even as he went for a crowd surf he kept playing – not only this, but he played accurately and in tune, something that eclipses many a guitarist when they’re not being supported by a sea of excited fans.
Supporting foals were baby rockers Alpine, whose debut album, A Is For Alpine, was the feature of their show. The Melbourne band played their signature indie pop-rock tracks, crooning and dancing through numbers such as Gasoline, which has received a fair bit of airplay on Triple J these past months. Where they struggled in comparison with Foals was in their craft: the members from Alpine were all solid performers and knew how to put on a show, but when playing alongside Foals it was clear that they didn’t know their instruments as well as the feature act.
The most refreshing thing about Foals is that they are clearly all confident enough as performers not to need to rely on the vocals as the crux of the band. Most of the songs Foals played had extensive instrumental sections that tested all of the players: from the funk guitar in This Orient to the harder drum solos in Electric Bloom, it was clear that everyone on stage new what they were doing and how to perform. Here’s hoping it won’t be too long until the boys decide to again grace our shores.