Words and images by Braden Fletcher
As far as hyped tours go, this is a big one for Oxford band Foals. With the release of second album Total Life Forever earlier this year gaining them large acclaims and a Mercury nomination, their new ambient take on math-rock has certainly been well received. With most of this tour selling out, and the remainder being balcony seats in Academies the large crowd assembled here are ready for something special.
It certainly doesn’t come in the form of support acts Pet Moon or Toro y Moi, the latter being better than the former, but not by much. With Pet Moon’s stock rising, they’ve written themselves off with 90% of the crowd with tonight’s poor effort, pretence and interaction and Toro y Moi never quite seem to get anyone going with their strange take on electro-indie.
The crowd are restless and increasingly agitated and Foals are late. When they do arrive, it’s an instant party as TLF opener Blue Blood’s crescendo leads to pandemonium throughout. Tonight’s set, in support of the aforementioned Total Life Forever, is surprisingly not an album heavy set. The band seems at ease combining the eclectic melodies of 2008’s Antidotes with the more refined new music, and it makes for something special. Cassius sounds even bigger than in the past and fits perfectly next to Total Life Forever tonight. Even with the buzz pushing Foals to the upper tiers of indie’s pages, none of the tracks sound in any way dated or overkilled, as they’re all given a fresh lease of life by the group’s new feel.
For me, there’s a slight lull just after the half way point of TLF and as brilliant as they are, as a collective the likes of After Glow and Alabaster allow slight boredom to creep in. Fortunately, this is offset by the intense build-up of Spanish Sahara which leads on to Red Socks Pugie again with a brilliant build-up which appears to be the theme of Foals at the moment, not too dissimilar to a dance event. In light of this, the crowd are in a lively mood, rejuvenated by the ambient tracks before. Electric Bloom brings a huge chant of “It’s just another hospital” followed by Yannis’ trademark crowd dive, surf and strip to a samba-meets-guitar backing. It really is something to behold. Minus half of his clothes Yannis leads the band off. Time passes. “Ba-ba-da ba-baa” rings out through the venue, Part of Two Steps Twice, which proves to be tonight’s closer after The French Open. This show was the beginning of the tour for Foals, and continuing on this form, who knows what heights they could reach before the year’s end?