Backstage at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre, on the first of a pair of shows, Foals’ Yannis Philippakis is recuperating. During ”Hummer”, he jumped off the stage, ran round to the back of the venue, ascended to the balcony, descended to its front, handed his guitar to a tech, climbed onto the ledge… and jumped off the balcony.
Actually, if you’re Foals’ Yannis, it’s totally as you do. Yannis likes jumping off things. Sometimes it might be onto you.
But this time, the Australians have stripped him of his clothes. His shirt is not so much liberated from his body but actually ripped off. And while he was being torn from hither to yon, a young man crowd-surfed over to him, grabbed his head, and kissed him in a manly fanly embrace.
“And they took my shoes, too” Philippakis says matter of factly as he shows off a small pizza-sized red bruise under his arm. Eep! I declare. “It’s just from being wrenched,” he says, shrugging.
Even on an “ok” night (Philippakis says he preferred Melbourne’s gig), Foals live are a pretty reliable proposition. Charisma AND talent? Lord, deliver us more bands that tick both boxes, because some bands play pristinely but fail to look you in the eye. Other bands ace the banter and eyefuck the front row, but sound like reheated ready meals. Most bands are, yeah, average on both, but nobody raves about a C+ on their report card, do they?
But Foals, Foals are an A, worth begging for a floor ticket to. Yannis will stare you down from the lip of the stage, get in there among (or on) you, and be willing to lose his footwear to you. He will grin as you draw and quarter him. He will bellow and belt during “Inhaler”, while his plaintive cry will stand hairs on end during a quieter “Blue Blood” or “Spanish Sahara”.
Meanwhile, forging the backbone, that thing that really grounds the Foals, is Jack Bevan on drums and Walter Gervers on bass. And here, Jack Bevan literally is ON his drums. Stood on his kit, and cracking his sticks above his head, before hopping down and powering big song after big song, Bevan is – I’ve typed it before and I’ll type it again – one of my favourite young drummers. And Gervers? Even Big Man lurches and steps further away from his corner stage-right spot. It’s ON. Meanwhile, guitarist Jimmy Smith sweats buckets over his chords, while keyboardist Ed Congreave studiously adds the next layer of flesh. With anthems “Total Life Forever” and “Red Socks Pugie”, the dancey twists “My Number”, mathrocky turns (set ender “Two Steps, Twice”) and the intense, visceral “Providence” (gah! love!), Foals music was made for spaces just big enough to cover a crowd but small enough so that someone can surf over and kiss you.
And so while tonight may have just been“ok” for Foals, this teacher awards them an gold star. The band has done a very nice job this quarter, taking pride in their work and completing assignments with quality in mind. \m/
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