Concert Review: Foals, May 13, Kool Haus


Disclaimer: this is three parts personal essay, one part concert review

Approximately a year ago, I went to a Foals show at the Kool Haus. I had regrettably missed every show of theirs up to that point, primarily because I had only discovered the British band’s music after the release of their 2010 album, Total Life Forever. Music journalists can’t always stay on top of things, you know.

But this was it. I would finally experience all the hype of their live show, as regaled to me by my fanatic friends. The only problem: an old flame of mine was also going to be there that evening. He’s not from Toronto nor have we spoken in years, so while I was anticipating the dancing guitars of the band I paid money to see, I was also overly eager to speak to this stranger I spent months fawning over.

I ran into him between sets and exchanged numbers. In reality, I still had his number in my phone, but he didn’t have mine. We parted ways and a few songs into Foals’ set – electrifying from its very first note – I received a text from him. He was alone, by the bar near the exit. So naturally, I left my friends and headed towards the alluring glow of lights at the bar (which I had already visited a few times to nervously chug drinks).

The rest of the band’s set found me filling up on beers backstage, smoking cigarettes outside and even trekking across the street in search for more smokes. As the boy and I gave up on the search, I could hear the booming noise of “My Number” seeping through the walls as I stood, lost, in an empty parking lot with a person who was nothing but poisonous to me. “You don’t have my number,” I can image singer Yannis Philippakis howling on the other side of the concrete walls. “We don’t need each other now.”

Needless to say, I never got that Foals experience I was hoping for. Instead, I got too drunk, abandoned my closest friends and contemplated the same mistakes I had made two years prior to that.

Last night, I returned to the scene of the crime, but determined to reclaim that night I let slip by almost a year ago. I was sober and significantly more stable, emotionally. Guess it helps that I’m in a healthy relationship now and it was a Tuesday night.

As my friend and I navigated through the dark room, pushing past sweaty post-Cage the Elephant bodies, we found ourselves almost in the same position as we were in last time, but I kept my feet planted, knowing that I wasn’t going to run off into the night with some guy. Plus, I don’t smoke anymore. No excuses, I was ready for the show.

Foals, of course, didn’t disappoint. Drawing mostly from their 2013 album Holy Fire, the band ripped through a set of chest-pumping anthems. Their knotty riffs are often tightly wound on record, but it unravels live. Songs like “Spanish Sahara” and show-closer “Two Steps, Twice” served as blueprints for the band to run askew with, veering into a full-on rock show at times. The uproarious jolts of jam-rock were combined with a vivid light show and in those moments, the building drumrolls hiked up your heart rate in anticipation for its explosive climax.

It’s clear that this band can and need to play bigger stages someday, to accommodate the monstrous sound they carry with them now. But then again, it’s still nice to see Philippakis hurtle his body onto an adoring crowd as he crowd surfs with a guitar in hand. People jumped, people danced, hell, some even brought back the classic lighters in the air (as opposed to lit-up cell phones).

It’s easy to see how a band like this has built a hefty reputation for memorable live shows. It’s a euphoria that’s infectiously winning. It’s the euphoria I should’ve chosen all along.

Posted on by Melody Lamb in Concerts