Foals : The Palace Theatre
Brisbane indie quartet Last Dinosaurs play shimmering guitar-pop that's all exuberance and playful charm. They garner smiles and invoke blissful dancing, but summon as little emotion as naive youths who can hold their own on a dance-floor but crumble in the event of solemnity. At this point, their music could be the soundtrack to some breezy, youthful romance and not much else.
Oxford quintet Foals have certainly made up for bypassing our shores during the tour of their 2008 debut album, Antidotes, by returning to Australia less than a year after their first tour here. Having returned in such a short space of time, fans would've rightly expected a similar set list, as the quintet's sophomore album, Total Life Forever, was released last May. Their performance at The Hi-Fi in July was, undoubtedly, one of the most impressive gigs of 2010: witnessing such a skilled, rhythmically-thrilling band unveil an unhinged passion and uncompromising intensity was breathtaking. It was a meeting of exceptional finesse and pulsating vigour; technical proficiency and expressive intensity; visceral delirium and revelatory exploration.
And it's those reasons that render a Foals' performance worth experiencing; it's certainly not a spectacle, which is why frontman Yannis Philippakis has to resort to life-threatening stunts to exhibit any physical presence. It's all about the sonic enticement and visceral intensity of their performance. Foals' second trip to our shores wasn't quite as exhilarating, but the musicality on display remains outstanding.
As soon as the glistening keys resounded, fans knew that Foals would be opening once again with Blue Blood, but it wasn't until the band unleashed into Olympic Airways that the crowd erupted. What becomes remarkably apparent is that even casual fans would be able to differentiate between songs from Foals' two albums, regardless of how familiar they are with the recordings. And as admirable as Foals' expansive trajectory on their sophomore album is, it's obvious that a more instinctual connection is harnessed to their first album, which is why Antidotes translates - for the most part - better live.
It explains why Electric Bloom (in all of its repetitive cries) receives a stronger reception than the brilliant and superior What Remains in all of its darker, more pensive inclinations. The main exception, of course, is Spanish Sahara, which is an entirely different beast altogether. The venue was throbbing with euphoric intensity, but tonight's performance didn't match the emotional potency or sheer passion of their debut Australian tour last year.
Loved: Spanish Sahara (stunning) and What Remains (darkly engrossing).
Hated: Having Yannis' voice drowned out a few times by a nearby lady whose voice was utterly excruciating - why is it always those with the most abominable voices who (to the mortification of their accomplice, I'm sure) insist on singing at the top of their lungs?