FoalsEdit this event
How often is it that a British band comes along (and an exciting one at that) who’ve yet to release a debut album, or even issue a widely available EP, and completely sell out a venue the size of the King’s Cross Scala? Sometimes when bands get together it just works, instantly.
Foals - who’ve only been in this current line-up since last May - are a prime example of when supernatural, magical interplanetary forces align just perfectly, producing something that is not just good but accessible at the same juncture – act-before-Foals The Ed Fitz were fucking good, but they just weren’t accessible. Whilst I’m very much bearing the cuts and bruises sustained from a broken nose picked up during Sunday night’s show at Reading’s Fez Club, it’s not enough to stop me venturing straight back into the impact zone tonight.
However, I am secretly dubious that a band like Foals - famous up-‘til-now for pumping entertainment into living rooms, squats, and dingy East London pubs - can translate effectively to this large venue. Often, once you stick a lot of bands like this all up high on that stage, sticking a barrier between ‘them’ and 'us’, something just gets lost. But as the metallic jangles of Yannis’ Travis Bean axe ripple over the violently distorted bass and synth concoction of 'The French Open', the entire room lights up and starts to move like bunnies who’ve just had their Duracells replaced. Each member stands in their trademark horseshoe-formation battle stance, jittering like short-circuiting robots, transforming into galloping stallions as the pressure cooker explodes after a quick switch to newbie ‘Cassius’. Broken nose or not, I don’t care anymore: I thrust myself violently into the rabble.
The band, who appear visibly weathered after just over a week on tour, are suffering with various injuries themselves, ranging from ripped-out earrings to chipped teeth. But they are still in good spirits, and vocalist Yannis is talkative tonight. He knows full well that they are in a pretty good position at present, and just as they decide to relax things with the delightful ‘Olympic Airwaves’ (the one about a layover at Heathrow) they shout in unison: “dis-appear... re-appear”. Confirmed: Foals really aren’t just the one trick 'Hummer'-pony they’ve been pinned as. Their ability to control the energy with a seamless transition into next-to-be-dropped single 'Balloons' is tight as a vice. Drummer Jack’s machine-like rhythms are incisive to the very core. Fists begin to punch the air as if signalling ‘TUNE’ on a late-night dancefloor. Any shortcomings they may be feeling up on stage tonight aren’t translated to the floor; the avant-garde freight train math-tech instrumental, which has become a staple at shows over the past year, follows and, yet again, devastates. Contrasting beautifully, they follow this with 'Red Sock Pugie', its textured and delay-ridden melodies the best example we’ve heard so far of the newer and broader Foals material.
Foals have the mix just right:
Equal bit noisy, equal bit melodic.
Equal bit pop, equal bit underground.
Equal bit techy, equal bit rock.
Equal bit math, equal bit experimental.
Equal bit mental, equal bit sensible.
Equal bit riotous, equal bit restrained.
Equal bit geek, equal bit cool.
Equal bit average, equal bit educated.
Equal bit arrogant, equal bit “bloody-nice-blokes”.
Equal bit scene, equal bit “couldn’t-give-a-shit”.
Equal bit naughty, equal bit nice.
And as Yannis literally rips the strings from his guitar’s neck during the now customary ‘Hummer’ finale, Jimmy heads north over our heads and into the crowd, followed shortly by Jack.
“Get back up there – we want more” demands a barrier dweller, thrusting Jimmy through the audience towards the stage.
“I’d rather be in here with you guys!” he retorts.
Although they’ve not planned it, an encore is expected. There’ll be no bargaining permitted. “We're only a young band. We don’t have anymore material,” says a lonesome Jimmy as Yannis frantically seeks a replacement guitar. It comes, in the form of a track so new they’re still yet to play it all together. Like the whole of the gig, though, they pull it off with confidence and class.
Photo by Kaori
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