by Olivioa Folliot
You’re in the middle of the crowd, polishing off your second beer while the sound check guys do their thing. All around you: a sea of plaid shirts, tapered pants, band T-shirts, and tattoos – and the energy in the room is palpable. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a slow, steady movement takes over. People start chanting, over and over again, until it overwhelms the modestly-sized concert hall: “FOALS, FOALS, FOALS, FOALS!”
Then they come out: Yannis Philippakis, the 25-year-old front man and guitarist, who openly admits to keeping a diary since the age of 12 (despite his notoriously feisty personality); Jack Bevan, on the drums (fun fact: he appeared in Burberry’s 2008 ads); guitarist Jimmy Smith; Edwin Congreve (one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter) on the keyboard; and bassist Walter Gervers. They’re excited to be here, and – as they take a swig of their beers and pass around that cigarette… or whatever it is that they’re smoking – you realize this is probably the best “indie pop”, “alternative dance”, “post rock”, “dance-punk”, “math rock”, whatever-you-want-to-call-it concert you’ll ever go to.
Foals are from Oxford, England and have been together since 2005. Their debut album – Antidotes - came out in 2007 and debuted at #3 in the UK Album Charts (give a listen to “Olympic Airways” if you haven’t heard it yet). The first single of their second album – “Spanish Sahara” from the album Total Life Forever – came out on March 1, 2010, and was featured in trailers for Entourage’s seventh season as well as Skins, going on to win “Best track” at the 2011 NME Awards.
The members are very close to one another, and their group of friends has solidified itself throughout the years – considering itself more as a self-sufficient family than a music group. All their music videos are created by their friend, Dave Ma, and all the artwork (including T-shirts, album covers, and others) are done by another friend, Tinhead. Not only that, but the band lives together on and off the road, because for them, “it’s just like touring with your family, it’s nice.”
Nevertheless, their spirit of camaraderie has sometimes gotten them into tough spots. In July 2008 – only a few months after the release of Antidotes – Yannis was arrested in Spain for taking part in a fight. It was later indicated that members of Foals and Kaiser Cheifs (an indie rock band from Leeds, England) attempted to break up a racist attack by John Lydon of the Sex Pistols on Bloc Party’s lead vocalist Kele Okereke.
And as you watch Yannis hurl himself into the audience or attempt to climb up to the second story balustrade guitar in tow, you get it. You want to be friends with these guys. They’re effortlessly cool, with heartfelt lyrics and undeniable attitude. They help kids get up on stage at the end of their concert – despite security’s efforts to stop them. They throw drumsticks into the crowd. They come back twice for an encore.
So just so you’ll get the vibe, I’ll end this article with a little tweet from Edwin:
“big respect to out tour manager keith o’neill for handing me a white russian mid-way through tonight’s show. above, beyond, and delicious.”
(May 1st – the night Foals played at the National in Montreal)