As the Uber neared the flashing welcome sign of the Fox Theater, my mind began to race. I was unsure what atmosphere Yannis Philippakis and the remainder of Foals would create. As soon as I walked into the Fox, the smooth lights and clever layout encouraged me. Looking around, I noticed that the crowd was full of fellow college students. With a close-quartered venue, an energetic crowd, and an exciting band, all signs were pointing to a great concert.
After an entertaining performance by the opening band, Bear Hands, the limbo period between opening act and main act began. This limbo period thinned the crowd, and allowed my friend and I to get within 20 feet of main stage. Anticipation slowly filled the venue as the the lack of Foals became increasingly irritating. After 45 minutes of agonizing waiting, my friend (who had seen Foals seven times before this) tapped me with excitement as Foals’ introduction song crept through the venue, drawing all eyes toward center stage. Following the song, Foals came out to a tremendous burst of enthusiasm and applause.
Foals’ setlist was centered around their most recent album, What Went Down (2015); however, they sprinkled in some first album classics for their true fans, including “Olympic Airways” and “Red Socks Pugie”. But the setlist was the least impressive aspect of this show. Yannis’ stage presence and crowd literacy created an experience that was not only enjoyable, but also unforgettable. An aggressive cycle of energy was created by Yannis’ stage presence: he amped up the crowd, then fed off their energy.
The crowd manifested their energy through moshing, a whole new concert experience for me. “Inhaler” off their third album, Holy Fire (2013), unlocked deeply buried primal instincts in the crowd. As Yannis sped up his riff, a large circle began to form. This large bubble popped into utter chaos when the song dropped. It was as if a school of sharks was present and some fresh bait had just been released. One negative aspect of the moshing was the disorganizing aspect of it. Rather than educated moshing (to the beat), the crowd engaged in instinctual, mindless shoving.
Foals encored with “What Went Down” and “Two Steps, Twice”. After their encore, the crowd (and band) were simply exhausted. I walked out of the venue to a crisp Oakland night. The fresh air brought me back down to contention, and I was able to appreciate how great the concert I just saw really was. The lights, the sound, the band, the venue, and the crowd worked together in harmony to mold the concert into a great one.
Article by Brendan Redmond