An otherwise nondescript gasworks convert is home to Foals in freezing cold Vienna tonight. As packed to the walls as the capacity crowd are, the weather outside causes endless chapped lips and reddening of ears but the heat and intensity from Foals feels as if it could banish the cutting wind as stoically as the walls do.
The Oxford band are in the midst of touring their fourth and best album to date, 2015’s What Went Down. Opening track, ‘Snake Oil’ kicks off with a hard-angled, tightly wound guitar and drum riff that encompasses two phases of the band; their early, melody-led anthems and their later, harder, riff laden stuff. Yannis, dressed head to toe in black, is every bit the moody rock star as he yelps and shouts his way through ‘Mountain At My Gates’ and ‘Olympic Airways’ without as much as a smirk. Knees going, curls bobbing, he cuts a dashing figure it must be said. It’s remarkable how much he sounds like Damo Suzuki at times, to his credit I might add. The band sound punchy and full of grit and continuously maintain the tight melodic chops the band are noted for. The atmospheric, ambient air raid is temporarily halted when ‘London Thunder’ is offed. It is definitely not the greatest song on their last album but it still has enough in it to support its own weight and the crowd are obviously appreciative to hear as close to a ballad as Foals will give them tonight.
‘Spanish Sahara’, ‘A Knife In The Ocean’ and ‘Inhaler’ are once again exquisite examples of a band in their stride and the interplay between them belies a high level of musicianship lacking in many of Foals’ peers; support act and otherwise heavy-hitters in the indie world Everything Everything sounding positively garage-band in comparison tonight. Quirky hipsters Foals are not. An encore comes but not before Yannis disappears from stage only to surface atop one of the stall-type bars around the venue. Down with a shot, onto the crowd and surfed back to the stage before we get ‘What Went Down’; a highlight during any occasion. ‘Two Steps, Twice’ closes the night and we’re back into the unforgiving winds tearing strips off of a Viennese suburb.