Foals – United Palace – November 4, 2016
Amongst a wave of British alternative bands that have made it in the States, Foals have broken out of a traditional narrative. PopMatters described the group’s transformation best: “Ten years ago, Foals could have likely been classified as an indie-rock group, but now they’re an archetypal case of indies going mainstream. The hip haircuts and clean guitar leads belie the fundamental radio-rock aesthetic in which Foals purvey.” Touring in support of their recent release, What Went Down, the lads headed way uptown to the United Palace to unleash on a packed house on Friday night.
In the ornate venue, strobe lights marked the band’s entrance as they jammed through an opening prelude. Frontman Yannis Philippakis provided a hearty greeting before delivering the guttural “Snake Oil,” which was accompanied by drummer Jack Bevan’s heavy beats. The first wave of collective handclaps began with “Olympic Airways,” but the cadence of striking hands continued throughout the evening, with very few attendees remaining in their seats. The anthemic call of crowd favorite “My Number” had the audience chanting, “You don’t have my number,” while the hypnotic “Give It All” reset the room.
An array of pink, blue and streaming bright white lights bathed the United Palace’s carved walls full of exotic places and creatures. Rhythm guitarist Jimmy Smith quickly slayed the opening chords of “Mountain at My Gates,” bringing everyone back to some heavy rock. The performance ebbed and flowed as the melodic opening of a crashing wave gave way to the lull of “Spanish Sahara.” Philippakis, in true form, hurled into the first few rows for the encore, “What Went Down,” his faithful fans holding him up as if he were walking over them. He and Foals truly ruled over the palace on Friday night. —Sharlene Chiu