What Went Down?
WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER
Having formed in Oxford almost fifteen years ago, life for an indie millennial is unimaginable without Foals. Whether it’s that Hummer or Spanish Sahara come to mind whenever you think of the hit coming-of-age series that explained it teenagehood to us – Skins. Or, you spent a long Summer with What Went Down on a repetitive loop: the iconic sound of the five-piece is continually recognisable.
The post-punk tinged debut album Antidotes from the quartet shot the band to fame in 2008, reaching Number 3 in the UK Album Chart and formally putting the ‘math-rock’ sub-genre on the mainstream map. Fourteen years on, social media was rife with their announcement of not only a fifth studio album in the works, but also a sixth this very same year, from the infamous alt-rock group.
Antidotes and the band themselves were a catalyst for this fresh take on indie rock, with a pop-like beat that splattered a burst of colour across the dark independent scene and coaxed it out of the dreary depths it was headed toward. The emergence and rise of acts such as Everything, Everything, and Bombay Bicycle Club (with a young Lucy Rose on backing vocals) saw a new, refreshing electronic twist on indie. Yes, there are still lyrics of love-lost and political anguish but presented with a quirky smile and a synthesiser accompaniment.
Foals’ identity is personified with singles featuring on classic noughties TV shows Misfits and Skins, which featured depictions of wayward teenage nights fueled by hormones and hyperactivity. Perhaps they were picked because they embodied that lifestyle already, as young men in their prime. The now legendary house parties that the band would host after the gigs of their early days, in the Victorian terrace which they inhabited in Oxford were quite rightly, the place to be. It may now be folklore but once upon a time Foals would swoop into the after-parties of local friends and gig-goers, drill out a makeshift version of Antidotes and effervescently accompany attendees until the early hours of the morning. If lucky enough to attend, it could perhaps be compared to Dave Haslam’s early claim to fame that Sonic Youth slept on his floor?
Since the aboriginal days of Foals, they became not uncommon amongst festival lineups and would easily sell-out an arena tour, but will also happily dwell within smaller venues – thus highlighting their adoration for meeting the need of the every-man. Their show is equally glorious whether at Bristol’s SU – The Anson Rooms (2015) – or headlining the world’s largest festival; Glastonbury in 2016. Alongside their two new albums that are quickly approaching us in 2019, they’re once again in their rightful place. Slotted in amongst festival lineups at Truck, INMUSIC, Y Not and what seems like every day-to-day breakdown – as well as a stand-alone worldwide tour – there’s a buzz around Foals yet again. Though perhaps it never left.
Each time they’re on stage, an audience gyrates to the likes of Two Steps Twice and Inhaler, lip-syncs every word and leaves with a beaming sense of euphoria. Oxford, the city that brought us Radiohead, also brought us Foals, two indisputably British bands that remain amongst music chatter decades after their debut on to the circuit. Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost (parts 1 & 2) will satisfy our quench for more when really we’ve already had so much – but not nearly enough.
Foals relate to your every-man who sailed through their teenage years with Providence as the backdrop, even just twisting to it alone in your bedroom. It’s their history of house parties and comradery with fans that pins them down as an act that we can relate to. “I’m an animal just like you” repeated in Yannis’ signature deep vocals, whilst Jack, Jimmy, and Edwin breakthrough with a feisty calamity of instruments. I for one have had “I’ve seen Foals seven times” “well I’ve seen them ten times” moments, is even witnessing them a claim to fame? They’re like you, they started from nothing and now here they are.