Let me preface this one by saying I am totally aware that I’m not exactly making a bold new claim here but… Foals does not suck. Many likely became familiar with mega-hit “Mountain at my Gates” as it circulated the radio airwaves over the past year, en route to hitting #1 on the alternative charts (take that, hipsters). And honestly if you haven’t at least heard of this band by now, you are truly living under a rock. Foals has cemented themselves as one of the top bands in modern rock, as they continue to make a habit of destroying headlining sets at massive festivals such as Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza and Coachella.
While Foals’ current sound translates well to the larger stadium-sized venues, their earlier math-rock-y albums are what provided the initial attraction for me personally. The UK-based group have been churning out choice tracks since 2008’s sensational debut Antidotes and sophomore standout Total Life Forever, two jam-laced albums that combine dancey instrumentals with Bloc Party-inspired vocals. 2013’s hit single (and absolute banger) “My Number” catapulted the Englishmen to worldwide relevance, and they have not looked back since. In a music climate shifting away from traditioonal guitar/bass/drum dynamics, Foals’ more traditional makeup reminds us that old-school rock styles can still pack a mean punch.
As is tradition, after familiarizing myself with the entire Foals catalogue I made it a personal mission to check the live show. As fate would have it, the band announced they would be at 2016’s Lollapalooza and elation quickly ensued. Employing his signature English-accented snarl, lead singer/guitarist Yannis Philippakis and the crew kicked the set off with a rousing version of recent single “What Went Down.” He and fellow ax-man Jimmy Smith then spent the rest of the set dueling on guitars and trading punchy riffs as Philippakis puffed on a cigarette from the side of his mouth, confirming my suspicion that, indeed, he was the cool front man I imagined. They covered their discography bases, playing various songs from every album as the rain-soaked crowd danced along to every beat. “Inhaler” and “Olympic Airways” were my two favorite. Like most of my favorite bands with multiple popular albums, the band didn’t play a few of my favorites but I left the concert knowing for certain that would not be my last time seeing the group.
The band recently kicked off a new string of US tour dates, with stops all over the US. check them out here http://www.foals.co.uk/news.htm (save the date fellow Chicagoans, its going down at the Riviera on 11/9). Do yourself a favor and catch them live ASAP and for the love of all things holy, watch the videos on here.
Noteworthy Tracks: “My Number” “Birch Tree” “What Went down”
Photo Credit – Atwood Magazine