It was with some hesitation that I entered the Wiltern on a Friday night to see Foals. You see, I’m not exactly the hippest cat in town.
Due to my fondness for classic rock, however, I’m usually on the younger end of most concerts’ attendee-age spectrum, thereby making me feel cool by default. At least — I’d think smugly, scanning the mostly middle-aged, lighter-swaying, often mulleted crowds — no one would mistake me for a member of Ted Nugent’s road crew, or for an ’80s workout video maven past her prime. I knew Foals would be different.
Foals, you see, is cool. Not the ripped-denim, hairspray brand of cool to which I insist on clinging, but actually cool. You know what, though? It didn’t matter. The power of rock overcomes these things. By the third song, I was just as whipped up as the young, hip crowd surrounding me, and suddenly the differences between our haircuts didn’t exist. Part of what makes good music good is that it’s accessible. Everyone from the aging metalhead to the fifteen-year-old punk to the thirty-year-old hair band fanatic should be captured.
I’d never heard Foals before, wanting to save my first listening experience for their live show, and I’m glad I did. They were breathtaking. At most shows I cover, I’m frantically texting myself pages of notes, terrified that I’ll miss some tiny detail that captures the essence of the experience. As I listened to Foals, however, the piercing guitar echoing from the soft blue glow of the stage, I could only text myself the briefest of notes, sometimes only one word. “Driving.” “Electro-progressive?” “Soundscape. That’s perfect.” “Music to explode your heart by.”
I loved the combination of the repetitive drive of dance music and the intense guitar-based rock. I loved their versatility — at times, they could sound alternately like a country Sabbath, a prog-rock Coldplay, or a Tool-inspired U2. A monster breakdown in which every guy onstage lost his mind, distortion reigning supreme, would be followed by a psychedelic reggae jamout, followed by a driving Rage-esque lead guitar solo. But most of all, I loved the crowd-surfing.
Frontman Yannis Philippakis certainly enjoys his crowd-surfing, jumping into the crowd not once, but twice over the course of the evening. The second time, in fact, he began at the back of the theater and worked his way forward, clutching his guitar all the while.
Not exactly the kind of thing you see at an Air Supply concert, folks.
I left the Wiltern feeling decidedly not uncool and eager to hear and see more of Foals. Just goes to show that no matter how tight your pants are, how long your hair is, or how you feel about wearing eyeliner, good music unites us.