Monday, April 21

Foals: live review (for drop-d)

I went to this gig with my staunchest ‘impress me you angular art bastards’ attitude, as a music fan weary of NME hype, fringe-floppage and drainpipe-jeaned automatons clambering for the best spot in the smoking section of (insert hip bar name here). Not to mention the reciprocal contempt that front man Yannis Phillipakis has shown for ‘lazy’ journalists, which has been well documented in the music press of the last nine months.

On arrival at Dublin’s Academy venue, it is wall-to-wall Skins fodder as I’m dazzled by haircuts and the stench of ripe hormones in the air. The place is packed and the crowd are really geared up by the time the band saunter on to crank up the electronics and, after some technical noodling, tear into album opener, French Open.

Their Antidotes album has received widespread critical acclaim and in a live setting their sometimes over-polished sound is messed with, giving a much scuzzier, edgier feel to their host of songs. They tear through Cassius, Olympic Airways is the weakest song of the set, and Heavy Water is decent but Two Steps Twice provides a real highlight.

With the gruff-looking front man facing sideways on stage, one gets the impression at times that you are watching an intricate jamming session that sonically falls somewhere between The Cure and Shellac. The Bloc Party comparisons are indeed lazy, as Kele and company have never rocked out as riotously as this, with the kind of math rock intricacies that the Oxford quintet display, and they certainly have never featured the kind of full on rave dancing that Foals’ keyboardist Edwin Congreave launches into spasmodically.

They rip through most of their repertoire and their encore is preceded by what looks like a roadie telling a highly dodgy joke about Rome, a hairdresser and the Pope.

With so much reprehensibly unimaginative dross around the ‘indie’ scene at the moment and with The Kooks recently opening their wet, straw hat wearing arses and excreting a new album into our world, it is fantastic and intriguing to see a young band emanate such energy and show as much real musicianship as Foals do. They are deliciously preoccupied with making the receptive crowd boogie and it is a hard rhythm to resist for the hour-and-a-bit they are onstage, at the end of which the crowd are still chanting for ‘one more tune’ as the house lights come up.

Foals as a live prospect prove to be extremely capable, jittery, musically able and groove-oriented and while their album is a fine offering, it will be interesting to see what they come up with in their next few albums, if they bring that raucous edginess to the recording studio.

7 comments:

red said...

That makes two good reviews of this show that I've read in the last ten minutes. I'm folding and checking out the album now.

adam said...

nice. very good album despite my reservations when i first heard about them and got it. they are so very very young..how depressing

Gardenhead said...

wall to wall skins fodder. Hahaha don't ask me why but that sounds vaguely dirty.
"last night my bedroom was wall to wall skins fodder."
I think because of their silly haircuts foals are misunderstood beasts. Their music is a lot less conventional than the outward signs indicate.

adam said...

yeah, they were heavy as fook. anything to keep the young 'uns away from razorlight etc., i s'pose.

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