Foals bring lean, clanging post-punk to Neumo's
Playing to an all-ages, nearly-sold out Neumo's crowd in Seattle May 30, Foals performed the final show of a three-month-long tour, promoting their April Sub Pop release "Antidotes." The UK post-punk quintet returns to the Seattle area to play Sub Pop's 20th anniversary celebration at Marymoor Park on Sunday, July 13.
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Playing to an all-ages, nearly-sold out Neumo's crowd last night, Foals did more with less. It was the final show of a three-month-long tour for the UK quintet and the hard work was evident: Well-oiled and airtight, Foals' lean, clanging post-punk filled the room even without the horn section and studio overdubs that color their April Sub Pop release "Antidotes." The performance was a thrilling, hour-long demonstration of what an inspired band does when they take their show on the road.
"Seattle feels like it might be our adopted home," lead singer Yannis Philippakis told the crowd early on. He and the rest of the band looked to be in their early 20s and sported matching haircuts — a sort of reverse mullet, long shag in front, short shear in back.
Though he engaged the audience directly throughout the night — at a couple points he even jumped offstage and danced wildly in the crowd — Philippakis turned his microphone sideways, facing lead guitarist Jimmy Smith. Philippakis wore an Ice Cube T-shirt; Smith wore one shoe, reportedly because of an injured foot. The rest of the band, including a keyboard player and bassist, chimed in time to drummer Jack Bevan, whose stuttering rhythms drove the band as much as Smith's wiry, Afrobeat-inflected guitar. The effect was jerky and propulsive, the kind of rock music tailor-made for awkward, fully engrossed dance floor convulsions.
Masterful as it was, the set was not without its flaws. Foals took the stage at 11:35 and wordlessly waded into a hypnotic swirl of noise, Philippakis electronically warping his screams and howls. It was a fascinating opening, but the band drained the mystery of the moment too soon to start bantering with the crowd. A second miscue came halfway through the set as the band set off on an instrumental jam that stopped without warning. "That was ... nothing," Philippakis said. Slight missteps, really, that could be chalked up to overenthusiasm. They only endeared the band further.
Foals dispatched should-be hits like "The French Open" — a tennis anthem sung partially in French, natch — and "Cassius" early, lushly rocking out despite the absent horns. Philippakis streamed through the crowd during "Balloons" and introduced "Two Steps, Twice" as a song about "how our friends in Oxford dance, which is badly." He could've been describing the gleefully flailing Neumo's crowd. During "Balloons" Bevan wrecked his stool and stood up to pound the drums. It was a fortunate accident that only heightened the band's frenzied energy.
The set closed as it began, with a wordless ambient jam that saw Philippakis smashing a floor tom drum with his microphone and distorting his vocals with an electronic gadget. A quick break before the encore: "Anybody like Slayer?" Philippakis asked. The band then exploded through a rapid-fire instrumental that was not Slayer. "That's it," Philppakis said, and the band walked offstage. The only thing left for the crowd to ask for was a quick return to Seattle. Which we'll get: Foals jet back from a month-long European tour to play Sub Pop's 20th anniversary celebration at Marymoor Park on Sunday, July 13.
Jonathan Zwickel: email@example.com
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