Two Steps, Twice: two nights of FOALS in Vancouver (Review & Gallery)

Foals have loved Vancouver, for a long, long time and Vancouver has loved Foals back for the entirety of it. In the past six years I’ve been seeing Foals play Vancouver, only once have they not played the venerable thou-capacity Commodore Ballroom (and that was in 2010).

They’ve started relationships here, they’ve made friendships here, they’ve watched shows here (and here, too), they’ve kicked off tours here and a week ago, ended them here. So when Foals singer Yannis Philippakis – across two nights at the Commodore when they could be playing an arena – tells the sold-out crowds each night, and in different ways, how much he love us here, we absolutely believe him. Because it’s true. Foals love Vancouver, and Vancouver loves Foals.

What’s not to love? Foals remain one of indie rock’s most reliable and immense live acts. Their mathrock has grown enormous, their arena rock has avoided cliché and their rock and roll charisma remains – Yannis can be relied upon to throw himself off a double amp into the crowd (as at the Commodore in 2011), off a balcony ledge (as in Sydney where he had his clothes literally ripped from him) or through the crowd to the back of the venue (as on night two in Vancouver where he went to fetch a shot from the Commodore’s stage left bar somewhere during the encores). He will grasp hands, stare you down, and reaffirm your belief that there are still great bands out there, working hard, making legendary horsehair-lined wooden floors bounce and heave.

Foals will play an economic but balls-out 14 songs during each set – with 12 tracks the same, in different order from here, swapping out “Give It All” on night one for “Balloons” and “A Knife in the Ocean” for “Akio” on night two. On both nights, there will be an arrow made out of gaffer tape on the stage showing Yannis where he can dive from. On both nights, bassist Walter Gervers and drummer Jack Bevan will per usual be inseparable, the backbone and rhythmic nervous system of the band. Guitarist Jimmy Smith will use a pint glass for a slide on night one, and ask for pot on night two, getting some from the front row, and happily huffing before the encore of “Inhaler” into “What Went Down” (Yannis, apparently, into the crowd again) into an insane giant “Two Steps Twice.”

Time and again, Foals work for our love and get it. And that is why they are always welcome here. \m/

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