Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Foals at Monolith

Below are my three reviews from Monolith. Please read them all if you get a chance, they are all relatively short. I'm working a radio story as well that will be up by friday, hopefully

There are some things that are better done in the dark. Having sex with an ugly person, robbing a house, and watching Foals live. On Saturday afternoon at Monolith, Foals was the second band to take the main stage at 2 o’clock. When the UK hipsters came out for their set (three of them with matching bushy black hair and patchy beards) they didn’t seem comfortable on stage. The crowd wasn’t huge or imposing, in fact the size of the audience was dwarfed by vastness of the venue. After the first song Red Rocks looked more like the Themeland Amusement Park in Spinal Tap when they were billed below the puppet show and did a jazz odyssey after Nigel left the band following their Air Force base performance.

After an interlude that felt too long the band went into “Tron.” During the song the groups performance picked up but the band didn’t seem to be completely comfortable on stage. After this song front man Yannis Philippakis said they were having “a visibility problem on stage” as he stumbled about looking like a bat in daylight with the sun blinding down on the main stage.

By the time they played “Balloons” Foals had adjusted to their unfamiliar surroundings and put together a decent performance. Their stage set up was unique and appealing, with their mics all facing the side of the stage instead of the audience and members standing behind one another it looked liked they took their practice space set up and applied it to the live stage. They followed this by “Heavy Water” who’s heavy bass riffs benefited from the natural acoustics of Red Rocks that with each strum the audience’s circulatory system had to be shaking.

During “Two Steps Twice” drummer Jack Bevan stepped out from the kit and got the crowd to clap along with the beat of the bridge. This was followed by the beautifully crafted “Red Socks Pugie” that highlighted Bevans percussion ability beyond mere handclaps and guitarist Jimmy Smith, who had been playing a great supporting role to front Philippakis, finally stole the show with his passionate plucking.

Before the group started into their last song “Electric Boom” Philippakis had a tom tom drum placed by his mic and took the opportunity to display his percussion prowess as the chilling post-punk guitar riff started the song. As the apex of the song hit and the band broke into noise rock, Philippakis began using his mic as a drumstick. Foals closed their set on a high note, but it’s hard not to image how much better the ending, and the entire set for that matter, would have been if it was at night at the Bluebird. Some bands can easily perform during the day at a music festival and pull off a good set with relatively little effort (eg. Tokyo Police Club), while others need the ambience and are attracted to the night just like the cat burglar and the low standards lover.

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