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On the Scene: Foals stampede through Manhattan

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All the snapshots I took at Foals‘ show last Thursday night at the Bowery Ballroom came out mad blurry. This is partly because I am a very poor photographer, and partly because I was being jostled constantly by the mosh-happy Britons in the crowd. But it’s also because the Oxford five-piece — my second-favorite artist of that description –€” are a particularly jumpy band. They were bubbling with nervous energy: Frontman Yannis Philippakis executed a Thom Yorke-ish pace/flail dance early on, eventually settling into an intense staredown with his mic, facing stage left, while his bandmates were similarly spastic all night.

And who can blame them for being a little on edge? While their debut Antidotes is uniformly excellent, it’s made up of the kind of fearlessly experimental indie rock that doesn’t always endear itself to American audiences. I’ve been listening to Antidotes nonstop for a few weeks now, and even I had my doubts about how well Foals would be able to recreate its dark, layered studio sound in a sweaty club. Indeed, one mustachioed dude guesting on saxophone couldn’t quite live up to the rich Afrobeat parts that the full horn section from Antibalas contributed to the album. But that hardly mattered. The core members turned those complex compositions into incredibly tight grooves. They’re a young band still; in time they’ll no doubt get even tighter. If they can hold on to that wild-eyed live passion at the same time, they’ve got nothing to worry about.

Anyone else seen Foals in concert recently, or enjoying their album? I recommend both experiences, for sure. In the meantime, the brand-new video for their great song “Red Socks Pugie” is below (hat tip) — and you can click here for a live performance of the same tune from last fall, when they were even less practiced than they’ve become…

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