Sunday, 9 March 2014

Foals concert: Mercury rising

You don't have my number? Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis getting the crowd at KL Life in a frenzy as the British indie rock act tore into this edition of the Upfront series.

You don't have my number? Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis getting the crowd at KL Life in a frenzy as the British indie rock act tore into this edition of the Upfront series.

British indie rock outfit Foals ran the fans ragged at its first concert here.

'THIS isn’t an album that is going to look great with your latte and loafers. I want to make songs for people who I feel have been disenfranchised by alternative rock music,” said Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis at a media session before the British indie rock outfit played at KL Live on March 4.

Philippakis, 27, was talking about the band’s well-received album Holy Fire, which was released last year.

Disenfranchised or not, this was the Foals album that brought the Oxford, England-raised band a wider audience and the chance to play a show in Kuala Lumpur.

With nearly 1,500 fans packed – with or without loafers – tightly at the venue, this Upfront/Tiger arena series headlined by Foals was a massive crowd-pleaser from start to end.

Material from all three of its records managed to set the masses off as they “shoulder” grooved and shuffled to the band’s danceable indie tunes.

Before we forget, there was a respectable opening set from Singaporean psych pop band Monster Cat (which came across as a twisted blend of Animal Collective-meets-Arcade Fire), but let’s be honest, everybody really couldn’t wait for Foals to hit the stage.

“We don’t eat three hours before a show just because we jump around a lot,” said Philippakis backstage.

The Foals singer wasn’t kidding as the band began its show with some urgency. It launched into the instrumental Prelude and moved seamlessly into Total Life Forever, which rocked the venue. What was immediately clear was that the band, formed in 2005, was super tight on stage. And why not?

With a busy tour schedule behind its successful third record Holy Fire, the band has had a full year of festivals and smaller shows to harness its live sound.

Admittedly, there was nothing particularly fiery or fist-pumping about the band’s live repertoire, but it had a collection of songs (14 in KL) that brought on the indie euphoria.

Unlike traditional rock shows (you can have Steve Vai in KL later this month), the best action wasn’t exactly happening on stage, but rather in the crowd. The fans were totally enraptured by the songs, at times oblivious to the band, just allowing themselves to get lost in the music.

Just like that classic Mew gig at the same venue last October, this Foals show was more experiential than visual.

Of course, the band played with precision and passion. That we cannot deny. With the interplay between guitarist Jimmy Smith’s delay-drenched signature style and keyboardist Edwin Congreave’s tasteful lines being the key ingredient to its live sound, the show proved that Foals could hold the attention of the crowd.

Without backing tracks, drummer Jack Bevan and bassist Walter Gervers also sprang up sonic surprises throughout the set.

Crowd favourites like My Number and Blue Blood sounded crisp and fabulous live.

The old favourite Red Socks Pugie also definitely had genuine pop value, especially with an eager crowd behind it.

And in Philippakis, the band had a frontman that is as unique as the name he carries. With his beach bum singlet style and bricklayer build, Philippakis was a brawler on stage.

He put all his heart into the tunes and how the young man could sing. Whether serenading the crowd with the quiet hush of Spanish Sahara (suddenly the venue switched to a One Direction-type fanboy/girl singalong) or screaming his lungs out on the robust Inhaler, Philippakis was undoubtedly the star of the show.

In fact, he truly deserved that bottle of brew which a nice fan bought for him as he walked down to the venue’s bar during the encore.

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment , Entertainment , Foals , Upfront , Indie


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