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Concert review: Foals at the Hollywood Palladium

On the simple stage of the Foals concert, ballads contrasted with rock hits from 2013. (Jintak Han/Assistant photo editor)

Foals Hollywood Palladium Tuesday Sept. 27

By Suzie Papantoni

Sept. 29, 2016 2:16 p.m.

Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis brings high notes and skillful guitar riffs that transform every Foals concert into an electric experience.

Tuesday night at the Hollywood Palladium was no exception for the British indie rock band. As the lights dimmed, a prolonged guitar riff announced that Foals had taken stage.

Blue and purple lights filled the indoor arena as the band launched into its first song, “Snake Oil.” The band members bounced up and down as lead singer Philippakis let out soulful cries into the microphone.

Throughout the night, the band skillfully eased into ballads, like fan-favorite “Spanish Sahara” from the 2010 sophomore album “Total Life Forever,” which was delivered with minimal instrumentation. Slower numbers contrasted with Foals’ classic rock hits like the 2013 single “Providence.” High-pitched guitar riffs and repetitive drum hits matched the intensity of the stage’s white strobe lights.

Foals kept the background simplistic, displaying a black-and-white picture of a crippled silhouette creeping through the woods. The screen shifted colors throughout the night to match the tone of the songs: When Philippakis crooned one of the band’s few love songs “Red Socks Pugie,” the stage filled with white dot lights, creating a starlit dome.

The minimalist visual aid drew attention on the lead singer rather than the fanfare around him, strengthening the emotional connection between the audience and the band.

[Related: Daily Bruin’s Suzie Papantoni reviews Flume at the Shrine Auditorium]

In the ballad “Give it All,” from the latest album “What Went Down” from August 2015, the band slowly swayed to the beat, mesmerized by the melancholic atmosphere Philippakis created as he sang the line, “I called you up three times last night,” in a falsetto.

The band members kept the concert intimate by improvising off of each other’s instrumental solos and bouncing together in sync to the beat. The entire gig felt as much like a reunion of old friends as the concert of a world-famous indie band.

“During the live concert, we are living in the moment psyched up by the strength of the sound wave,” bassist Walter Gervers said in an interview before the show. “We feed off the energy of the crowd and off each other and that’s what makes for a good show.”

During the catchy tune “Mountain At My Gates,” Philippakis approached the edge of the stage, shaking his hands up and down like a conductor, demanding the audience sing along.

[Throwback: Hollywood Palladium hosted the band Imagine Dragons in 2015]

The climax of the show came with Philippakis’ legendary crowd surfing, which he attempted twice during the last two encore songs of the night, “What Went Down” and “Two Steps, Twice.” The two songs are classic Foals closers – the same songs the bands used to close their performance in London’s Wembley Arena in February.

As the final hit track “What Went Down” descended into powerful guitar progressions, Philippakis jumped off the stage and landed amidst his fans, who reached their hands out to grab him. Philippakis closed the show atop their shoulders, yelling from the top of his lungs, “When I see a man, I see a lion.”

Standing – quite literally – on the shoulders of its fans, Foals raised itself above other indie rock bands with its splendid showmanship and genuine passion.

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Suzie Papantoni
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