Wednesday, May 4, 2011

UK's Prized Foals = Best in Show

On Monday, May 2, when I headed to the 'dise to see the Naked and the Famous, Freelance Whales, and headliner Foals, the latter was the band I was least excited about. To me, they'd sounded a little flat in their two albums, Antidotes and Total Life Forever. If you've felt the same way listening to their tracks please do the following: Chuck, incinerate, destroy these preconceptions and get your ass out to their next show. The Foals are raw, wild, and jam harder and better than any band I've seen live in months. After pondering why they sound smaller on their albums than their true-larger-than life status, I've concluded they are so hot and SO good, it's impossible to contain them in an inanimate object like a CD or MP3 file. Hopefully their next album does justice to their true talent.

Opener Naked and the Famous didn't show up to open due to illness, but Freelance Whales seamlessly hopped on stage and gave the Foals a worthy opener. To the starstruck fan in the audience who shouted "I LOVE YOU" lead singer Judah Dadone replied a bashful and perfectly timed, "I really, really have ... strong feelings for you." They were a pleasure to watch, galvanizing the crowd from the first moment with their enthusiastic "Generator First Floor" a song peppered with a hot xylophone melody.

Despite the fact that, according to Dadone, it was their seventh time playing Boston in twelve months, Freelance Whales offered a fresh, mellifluous performance, punctuated with sick drumlines, vocals, accordion, and watering can (!?). Best picks of their set list include: The Great Estates, Ghosting, Broken Horse, and Hannah. Dadone revealed that after touring, the band's headed home to work on their second album (the first being Weathervanes). It's definitely one to wait for with bated breath.

After an, ahem, incredibly thorough sound check, the Foals took the stage. They exploded with "Blue Blood" to the delight of Foals zealots in the crowd. They played on early through technical difficulties with bassist Walter Gervers's guitar, following lead singer/guitarist Yannis Philippakis's no-big-deal suggestion, "Come on, let's just jam." It's rare for me to truly enjoy a long-ass jam, but their set was punctuated by these sporadic crescendoing sessions that I literally never wanted to end. I think we were all hoping there'd be some sort of Star Trek, Rip Van Winkle vortex that would suck us in where we'd listen to Philippakis's insane, kinesthetically unbelievable guitar rifts endlessly. The British, Oxford-formed band works effortlessly together and has a palpable, beating-heart energy. It helps that diminutive Philippakis is on the lunatic fringe, climbing into the lights to play during Spanish Sahara, flinging the microphone and its stand around stage, beating the big single drum on center-stage a la some sort of primal pyro-tradition song and dance. No one wanted the show to end, and truly my ears and soul are still ringing.

Key tracks include: Everything they played, but if I must be more specific: Spanish Sahara, Red Socks Pugie, and Olympic Airways. My three favorite moments of the show: Realizing the keyboardist was playing in polka-dotted socks without shoes, seeing a fan inconspicuously plucking and swigging one of the guitarist Jimmy Smith's un-touched Coronas off-stage, and witnessing Philippakis's entire Tasmanian Devil, seizure dance repertoire.

Freelance Whales
Doris Cellar (accordion, vocals, guitar)
Chuck Criss (keyboard, xylophone)
Judah Dadone (lead vocals, guitar)
Jacob Hyman (drums)
Kevin Read (guitar)

Yannis Philippakis (lead singer and guitarist, big drum player)
Jack Bevan (drummer)
Jimmy Smith (guitarist)
Edwin Congreve (keyboards)
Walter Gervers (bass)

Foals set list
Blue Blood
Olympic Airways
Total Life Forever
After Glow
Black Gold
Red Socks Pugie
Spanish Sahara

French Open
Two Sets Twice

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