Tuesday night, Adele wasn’t the only English superstar in South Florida.
Foals, an award-winning indie-rock quintet, sold out their first-ever show in Fort Lauderdale at Revolution Live. It was, in short, a concert much bigger than a venue that small could ever hope to contain.
For the initial stop of their tour through the states after a stint in South America, Foals brought a familiar friend in Bear Hands, the Brooklyn outfit that’s made a number of appearances in the Sunshine State, as well as Cali’s Kiev, who was also visiting us for the first time.
In fact, as is so often the case, Kiev, an experimental prog-rock group featured in an episode of The Walking Dead, is beginning their journey up the east coast from Florida… but only after a two-day drive from home. “We drove straight from L.A.,” lead vocalist Robert Brinkerhoff told us, “with only about a three-hour break.”
It was a trip well worth the effort for both the band and the audience. Brinkerhoff and Kiev, looking like a philosophy professor surrounded by an equally insightful motorcycle gang, were greeted warmly, a greater number of their fans on hand than one might have expected. They replied with fierce jams that even had the usually stoic security guards bobbing their heads. Although the individual parts were good, it was the amalgam of crashes, moans, riffs, and squeals that produced one unified and dramatic sound.
Bear Hands’ 2016 effort, You’ll Pay for This, was seemingly designed to allow vocalist Dylan Rau more freedom onstage. And take advantage he did. No longer tied down to his keyboard, Rau jigged and hopped back and forth, at one point singing part of the band’s radio hit, “Giants,” from the ground on his back in some odd, reverse-scorpion yoga-pose.
As a preamble, Kiev and Bear Hands served their purpose in presenting the two most familiar qualities of the headliner. On one side was Kiev, sonically apocalyptic, controlled musical chaos; on the other, Bear Hands and its collection of genuinely springy numbers.
The crowd at Revolution was a noticeable blend of body odor and perfume. It didn’t matter that the venue opened up not only the first floor, or Stache, but also the second to accommodate the sold-out crowd. With the sight lines being as terrible as they are in a building that thinks it’s much bigger than it really is, bodies always press forward and forward and forward until the throng is hot and claustrophobic.
And still, the concert was worth grinding up against other people’s junk.
The start of the final act was, at first, overlooked. A slowly churning guitar quietly crept into the room, eventually building and building until the ruckus and guitarist Jimmy Smith were both towering over the audience. Everything quickly went from a whisper to a wail leading into a furious quintet of songs that included “Prelude,” “Snake Oil,” “Olympic Airways,” and “My Number,” the latter producing an explosive reaction from the entire room.
This was undeniably an event sure to only get bigger. As cerebral and dreamy as Foals have always been on record, it’s somewhat of a surprise to find out that they fucking bring it. It’s perhaps a direct result of their last record, What Went Down, by far their heaviest album to date.
“Mountain at My Gate” loosed the chain on frontman Yannis Philippakis. He shimmied and spun around, pulling off the old school rock-and-roll cool of an Alex Turner, sans the leather jacket.
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The band’s performance was as huge as its lead man’s presence; Foals should have been playing Bayfront Park, the Fillmore Miami Beach, or the Broward Center next door — venues they would still sell out.
But alas, no complaints here. Foals were titans playing in a dollhouse – one they enthusiastically crushed with all of their might. Those of us crammed into Revolution were fortunate enough to witness poetry. Foals employed melodies that resonated with the soul as well as the ears. They were as beautiful as a Gregorian chant, as invigorating as a cold shower, and as passionate as a kiss between lovers separated by time and space.
They hit all the marks an inspired band playing Revolution should: They showered us with light using a disco ball while Philippakis jumped up on the side bar before eventually succumbing to the crowd and singing/surfing on a wave of humanity.
The forest backdrop spoke to the essence of Foals' music and the show in particular. They engaged the raw power of the human animal and its same calming spirit that fervently seeks love or curiously explores new territories from both within and without. By the close of the show, a final, transformative half-hour, no matter how formidable their wall of sound grew, it was never meant to keep anyone out, but instead, to welcome all listeners in.