The Humbucker Proxy
Foals at the Ogden Theatre, Denver
Foals brought its beyond-energetic live show to Denver on Tuesday night, and the intellectual young English indie-rock quintet – bouncing around the stage with the fervor of a hardcore punk band – reminded me of the term Anthony Keidis once used to describe the Talking Heads “big band” era: “orchestral funk.” Juxtaposing lyrics that touch on obsessive love and Huxleyan future-worlds with quick, crisp whiteboy funk that explodes intermittently, Foals’ live show impresses not just with the group’s contagious calisthenics and percussive, Graceland-on-steroids guitars. What moved me most was how singer-guitarist Yannis Philippakis and Co. – who admirably waited until the encore to play “Inhaler,” now their most recognizable tune – re-arranged fan favorites, navigated stop-on-a-dime changes ala King Crimson, and tastefully extended bridges and outros into beautiful build, release and repeat workouts that often ended with Philippakis jumping or running into the audience. At one point he even pulled an Eddie Vedder and climbed the balcony before leaping into the big Ogden crowd’s enthusiastic arms.
It was powerful, and powerfully original. Jambands like Particle have made a living for years playing shallow double-time funk for kids on ecstasy; Foals takes that dance-concentrated formula, mixes in the tiniest smidgen of Nu Metal bombast, and one-ups even the best modern jambands by slaying audience with not only the aforementioned fire-breathing orchestral funk but, get this, great songs. One after another.