Yannis Philippakis fronts Foals at The Anthem on Dec. 13, 2022. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
When you’re a concert photographer, the usual procedure is that you’ll turn up at a concert and shoot the first three songs, without flash, of the performance. You hope it will be in the pit, but sometimes you’re way back at the soundboard.
This is the norm mostly because every band wants to look their best. During the first three songs, bands generally haven’t yet broke a sweat, and they are likely wearing their full outfits — jackets, accessories, etc.
British indie rockers Foals turned this norm on its head recently in performance at The Anthem, where they asked photographers to cover the *last* three songs of their set, demonstrating that they are peak rock-n-rollers with confidence to spare.
The last song in Foals’ main set at The Anthem on Dec. 13 was “Mountain at My Gates” from their 2015 album, What Went Down. Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis sang the voices with his instantly recognizable falsetto as he pondered an inescapable fate (“But each day, I see you less,” and so it goes). For this song, Yannis sang from the edge of the stage and eventually he wandered down into the pit to wander by the audience and sing to the front row.
Things got much more chaotic after Foals took a brief break. The band returned for an encore that consisted of two songs — “Inhaler” from third album Holy Fire and “Two Steps, Twice” from debut record Antidotes. Upon beginning “Inhaler,” the band relaxed quite a bit. Foals introduced a tremendous amount of funkiness into the electronic song as the audience roared along to the lyrics, which reference finding your own space.
Yannis was totally energized and so was drummer Jack Bevan, one of three founding members and an outstanding performer. Bevan generally played with a “damn the torpedos” attitude, and at the end of “Inhaler,” he stood upon his drum kit to smack the cymbals from high above. Guitarist Jimmy Smith, the third founding member of Foals, joined Jack on the drum platform along with bassist Jack Freeman, and they jammed with extra neo- psychedelic power through an extended musical interlude that inspired the crowded room to freak out and dance.
Watch the official music video for “Inhaler” by Foals on YouTube:
During “Two Steps, Twice,” Yannis joined Jack on the drumming platform and the two shared a memorable moment as they banged away on their instruments with sheer determination and then joy breaking out on their faces!
Lest we forget, Foals toured to promote the band’s latest album, Life Is Yours, their seventh studio album, which was released in June by Warner/Transgressive/ADA. The band got the audience in the mood by playing some of the new numbers at the top of the set, opening with “Wake Me Up” and soon following with “2001.” Fourth album single “2001” in particular proved to be a crowd-pleaser with Yannis’ psych wail and Jimmy’s catchy guitar riffs.
Leading to the midpoint of the set, Foals added “(summer sky)” and finally “2am” to the set, devoting only four songs of the 17-song show to Life Is Yours. Jimmy switched to keyboards for “2am,” boosting the synths already being played by the band’s really great touring additions, Joe Price and Kit Monteith. These guys fit the Foals mold with their well-groomed appearances and spot-on mastery of their instruments.
Watch the official music video for “2am” by Foals on YouTube:
This show was quite a mood — a well-directed musical swirl that was tight enough to be easily ingested but loose enough to lose yourself. The psychedelia of the new songs fit the band quite well, and they have grown tremendously since I very first saw them at the Rock and Roll Hotel in DC back in 2008! Foals have strengthened their capacity for taking you out of your body and lifting your spirit, particularly if you’re a dancer, and this show is evidence that their transcendental power will continue to grow!
Here are some photos of Foals, as promised, being totally fearless and awesome. All pictures by Mickey McCarter.