There are some shows where a three or four paragraph description just doesn’t cut it, and if you know anything about Oxford indie rock band Foals, then you know this is one of those shows. That being said, I’m not even going to try – the pictures (and my ringing ears) speak for themselves. June 1st, Foals packed Neptune to the gills for the second night in a row, and threw just as much against the wall as they did Friday night in a truly fantastic live performance. Together with Florida surf rock favorite Surfer Blood and LA pop group Blondfire, Foals tore the roof off, and nearly brought the entire house down (see: Yannis jumping from the balcony with his guitar in hand). For anyone who missed out, this should be fair warning never to miss Foals live again.
Opening the night was a great set from brother and sister band Blondfire. Erica and Bruce Driscoll, accompanied by live help, navigated gracefully between pop, alt-country, and shoegaze to make for a delightful set. Halfway through, they pulled out a great cover of “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, which fit wonderfully into Erica’s vocal range and style.
Second on the bill for the evening was Surfer Blood, who just the day before stopped by the KEXP studio for an in-studio. John Paul Pitts and the gang are set to release new album and major label debut Pythons next week, so this tour has been great for preliminary advertising. The new singles like “Demon Dance” and “Weird Shapes” sound delightful, taking the fuzzy surf sound of Surfer Blood’s instant classic Astro Coast and mixing it with a more refined pop sound. Of course, the band wasn’t shy to touch on classics like “Floating Vibes” and “Twin Peaks”. But the crowd favorites by a mile were Tarot Classics tracks “Miranda” and “Voyager Reprise”. Surfer Blood’s playful sound, mixed with Pitts’ quirky and awkward interaction with the crowd made for a great time. For Astro Coast track “Take It Easy”, Pitts jumped into the crowd and clambered all the way back into the bar area for some up close and personal action with unsuspecting guests. Delightfully poppy and friendly as all get out, Surfer Blood got everyone off their feet and ready to dance for Foals.
Foals are a riveting live experience. The band throws a rock show with a pop delivery, doing as much dancing and moving and interacting with the crowd as they do play their tunes. But make no mistake – Foals tunes aren’t exactly a walk in the park to play. Yannis, Jack, Jimmy, Walter, and Edwin aren’t having a cakewalk up there – they are throwing down blistering lines one after another, but making it look easy and fun. As the band entered and started in on the Holy Fire “Prelude”, the Neptune grooved left and right as energy built to insane levels, at which point, the band broke into a white hot rendition of “Total Life Forever”. At that point, there was no turning back.
This is Foals’ first trip through Seattle in support of the new record Holy Fire, but both the band and the crowd made it look like a victory lap. The production on Foals records pulls them back from the foreground a bit, adding reverb and creating a really epic experience that feels larger than life, but when you see them live, you realize something really important: Foals records feel larger than life not because their records are produced that way, but because when you see them a couple feet in front of a horde of screaming fans, you realize that they really are larger than life. As a frontman, Yannis is an epic muse in the classic sense, leading you on a musical journey that will change you for life. He dances this way and that on stage, ripping out crazy, unorthodox rhythms on his guitar before returning to the microphone for another grimacing line. On stage, Foals are even more than the sum of their parts. Whether they are bringing the tears on the soaring grace of “Spanish Sahara” or getting the entire venue off their feet for danceable singles like “My Number”, they take their tunes to new heights with each performance. A lot of bands try to make “this show their best show ever”, but with Foals, they really do it. I don’t know how, but they do it.
Check out more awesome photos below, and listen to Holy Fire now.