Monday, May 26, 2008

Foals, Maps & Atlases @ Troubadour. Los Angeles. May 24.

“Hello, we're Foals, it's lovely to see you.”

In their first visit to L.A., hipster-friendly Foals greeted us properly and sent us off with a twin tom beating; 22-year old front man Yannis Philippakis confessed to a sold-out Troubadour that the appearance they'd made on the Jimmy Kimmel Show earlier had been “weird,” and judging by his muttered thoughts and lack of eye contact, it seems said weirdness was possibly brought on by a lack of comfort with a wide spotlight.

Math rock's a bit late getting to England, more easily found in the states a few years ago and now coming from across the pond in the form of Foals; their record Antidotes is admittedly a fiercer and more detailed version of the British post-punk that's been flying around the last few years, as well. But Foals are phenomenal performers nonetheless primed to be huge. Live, it's wildly apparent that they resemble the overused Vampire Weekend/Battles hybrid with which they've been so frequently pigeonholed, blending those math rock intricacies with a danceable post-punk trance, but it's a wonderful formula to watch. Their sound transforms from clean and sparse to thick and heavy in an instant, and their energy is far more grand with a visual complement, it being so much easier to get lost in Jack Bevan's rhythms when you're watching the band lead you in a flexible bounce.

Philippakis himself has a sort of Rivers Cuomo-like look to him, tight lipped and hard to penetrate, and like fellow guitarist Jimmy Smith – who's lightning fast in the hand – carries his guitar high on his chest. He's a bit sexy, a bit fey, and despite his mumbles and downward gaze, had this distant way of going apeshit during “Two Steps Twice,” when he tossed off his guitar and fell into the crowd, nonchalantly getting up and stumbling through a sleepy dance after no one caught him, and paid no mind when he put his guitar back on and then tripped on stage. With a graceful coolness, later, he'd knock his microphone to the floor at a beat's notice.

He's an odd attention-getter in a band where every individual member is necessary and possesses such high musical talent, particularly given their youth; this front man-as-star positioning is in contrast with the night's opener, Chicago's Maps and Atlases, whose drummer, Chris Hainey – like a heavy-handed Stewart Copeland, fluidly waving his sticks from the ends – served as core. For the record, Maps and Atlases were a bit more “math” (god, what a terrible term) and equally as worthwhile a catch. The slight touch that Foals offered to deserve that headlining slot, though, was that their energy was far too bold for a venue like the Troubadour, which, I suppose, made the night that much more telling of what's to come.


Maps and Atlases:

Purchase Antidotes
Update 6.8.08: Someone posted the show's highlight on YouTube! Hurrah.


Anonymous said...

ZOMG! Antidotes is one of my favorites this year. I can't wait to see them this Friday.

One week, I hyped them at KUPS enough to chart Foals at number one. The Sub Pop promoter was so pleased she sent me the album on vinyl.

China said...

What a nice ending to a nice story. Sub Pop folk are really nice. KUPS is nice. You are nice.

I feel like a big hipster for liking their record, but their live show is seriously, ridiculously good. You will have an amazing time of good fun.