I had a bunch of
good excuses for not going to see the Foals last night: it was a free show, so getting in could be a hassle, I’m not a big math rock fan, the album though good, is a bit same-y sounding, I was tired, etc, etc. So I wasn’t planning on going until my friend Bill over at Sound Bites emailed and said they killed it in NYC and I should go or else. So I put my lame excuses and reservations aside and trekked down to Chop Suey to catch the second date of the their minute two city tour of the US.
As they were doing their sound check, plugging in their guitars and stuff, they kind of started an impromptu jam, that sounded so good, I thought they were just going to start the show right then. It was like listening to a symphony warm up, that slightly disjointed organized chaotic sound that I find so soothing. But, no they stopped playing after a minute or two and filed off stage. Live, these guys come across as a band that has got it together. Their sound demands precision, and live they deliver that precision in manic spades. Timing must dictate that they stand around in circle on stage facing each other most of the time ignoring the fact that they’re playing to people. Both guitarist and the bassist wear their instruments high around the chest like a lot of jazz musicians. It’s a little geeky looking, but cool at the same time. They may wear their instruments a little funny, but they spaz out the entire time, jumping, swinging, pogoing around the stage, constantly upping the pace of each song until squeeze it to it’s breaking point. The crowd was totally into it dancing and even pogoing and singing along to a lot of the songs. The band’s spastic energy even brought them out into the audience, when without warning both guitarists jumped off stage, barreling into us. Watch out for those guitar necks, man they hurt!
Where songs seem to run together on their record, the live versions take on lives of their own. And though I’d be hard pressed to tell you what songs they played or the order, the delivery is so engaging and manic that it makes you forget about whether or not it was French Open you just heard or Cassius. They even add in new bits like the cool bass solo on Two Steps, Twice that sounded like Andy Rourke on the Smiths‘ Barbarism Begins at Home.
The Foals certainly have a Gang of Four thing going on, but they’ve got a much wider pallet of influences than just that Leeds band. Last night I was reminded of Josef K and the jagged guitar that ran through their songs crossed with Heaven 17‘s new wave funk. Throw in a little post rock like a sped up American Analog Set and you’re getting close to their sound. Don’t get me wrong the Foals album Antidotes is a good record and after seeing them live, I’m really looking forward to seeing what these guys come up with next. After being on the fence about these guys, I’m definitely glad I went and am now firmly in their coral (you didn’t think I could go an entire post without making a horse joke?).
More pictures at my flickr page linked over on the right.
buy: The Foals – Antidotes (released 8 April on Sub Pop)