Lots of people hate Foals. They’re idiots.
Since January’s hype machine splattered them with superlatives, Foals have experienced something of an inevitable backlash.
As the band topping every tastemakers to do list, the Oxford quintet have come in for some serious stick. It is of course unwarranted. Going against the grain is easy, Foals deserve to be championed and tonight they prove without question why.
First off, we’re living in a time when white-boys with guitars is considered seriously unhip, but Foals buck the trend with a nervous frenetic tension which feels excitingly unpredictable yet seriously tight. Loose but exact. And their groove is unrelenting, so much so from the dynamic opener XXXXX until a second specially extended instrumental encore, the crowd is in raptures and the Academy is a sea of up-down movement.
Yannis Philippakis darts around the stage, climbing speakers, jumping up monitors, bashing his Les Paul, all the while conducting his band with flicks of his impressive fringe.
Almost all of incredible debut, Antidotes, is given the treatment, from the bombastic The French Open, singles Cassius and Balloons and a raging Electric Boom as the shouts of ‘just another hospital’ ping off the dripping walls.
Comparisons with Battles are unavoidable; the intricate, multi-layered guitars and all-over-t’shop rhythms are elements both bands share, but where the Brooklynites surpass their recorded output with marathon live sessions, Foals stick more to the script. A shame really, as their motorik energy – surely their most fascinating characteristic – would allow for seemingly unending guitar trickery and krautrock beatathons (something Battles specialise in) allowing for a greater ecstatic high.
But, Foals aren’t Battles. And this level of innovatism and experiment will surely come in future records. And tonight they excel at merely ramping up the excitement with a near-repeat of Antidotes; Heavy Water‘s bass-heavy skronk works everyone into a frenzy and the epileptic jolt of Two Steps Twice in the first encore is a wondrous delight.
And as they exit the stage after a magnificent instrumental funk workout the soldout Academy crowd is left in no doubt why the hype machine went into overdrive.