Foals create a frenzy of chaos
It was dark, sweaty and pulsating. The cavernous Oxford Art Factory in Sydney was the perfect setting to see English quintet Foals play a midweek show of high intensity and grit.
With support act Mitzi rounding out their set as we arrived, to polite applause, the small dance floor began to surge and heave with bodies squeezing into tight spaces, filling it to the brim. After a suitably long, tantalising wait, the lights dimmed and the smoke surrounded us. Two minutes of howling, whirring and brain-rattling bass electro music followed, along with eyeball-assaulting strobes, tempting us into thinking they would appear on stage, until it all suddenly stopped and the place went dark. And they appeared. The cave exploded.
Dressed mostly in black t-shirts and jeans, as the guys took their places, they launched into a riotous version of Total Life Forever which got the crowd singing along with lead singer Yannis Philippakis as he fixed us with a steely gaze, artfully helping to play the band’s trademark catchy riffs. Alongside Yannis were guitarist Jimmy Smith, bassist Walter Gervers, drummer Jack Bevan and keyboardist Edwin Congreave who all created a tight, streamlined sound and played with fervent enthusiasm. They didn’t disappoint once with hits like Red Socks Pugie, Olympic Airways and a massive Miami that got everyone dancing in a big, sweaty mess of hair and limbs. Two Steps, Twice was stretched to breaking point as Yannis’ crowd surfing took him traveling the length of the bar, up to the mezzanine level and down again, still impressively playing his guitar. The rest of the band and the crowd had to have repeated the “ba ba ya ba ba’s” at least 20 times, taking it to the very zenith before finally dropping the beat into an absolute frenzy of wet chaos.
Spanish Sahara was, as everyone knew it would be, brilliant and suspenseful, building to its beautiful crescendo and sending people to their happy places. Blue Blood was equally amazing and as the bass drops a few lines in, it created mood and drama that continued to the end. But the song that everyone was waiting for was Inhaler, their latest single, which was every bit of chunky, loud and heavy goodness we were expecting and more. It was dark and brooding as Yannis coyly sang over the sparkly guitar riff, building it up til it boiled over into shredded pandemonium. There was not a dry body in the house.
With two equally brilliant albums under their belts already and one highly-anticipated impending album, Holy Fire, set for release in February, Foals have shown considerable progression in their sound, which is exciting and rare for a band that could easily remain formulaic. They have instead been bold and dynamic, exploring new territory, garnering new fans and rousing old ones in what will surely be a wild new ride.
Review by Kate Holcombe. Photo of Foals by Chelsea Smith