Even though Foals hail from Oxford, England, the British band has been a somewhat frequent fixture in Milwaukee in recent years. The last few Foals outings in town have taken place at The Rave, and that trend continued Sunday night when a large crowd collected themselves after the Bucks playoff loss and made their way to the venue to watch the UK outfit—and recent Milwaukee mainstay—traverse their infallible back catalog and treat the enthusiastic audience to cuts from the band’s newly-released Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost.
Following an upbeat and all-around solid opening set from Omni out of Atlanta and a brooding-but-brilliant outing by the Canadian post-punkers in Preoccupations, Foals took the stage. Bathed in pink light and surrounded by fog, a robotic prompt recited the new album’s title and launched the set into motion, as the headliner kicked things off with “On The Luna.” Having already made a great impression, Foals won over any skeptics by chasing that brand new single with What Went Down hit “Mountain At My Gates” and playing “Snake Oil” from that same 2015 record, before venturing all the way back to Antidotes to take diehards and newcomers alike on a trip to the band’s 2008 debut by way of “Olympic Airways.”
Flanked by his five bandmates, singer-guitarist Yannis Philippakis commanded the bursting ballroom with an undeniably energetic execution of each and every song. Despite twirling and jumping, venturing to all corners of the stage, being hoisted by the crowd, piling emotion into material with screams and perpetual movement, the Foals front man sang with album-caliber quality and played the band’s intricate and borderline math-y material to perfection. This was perhaps best illustrated in the band’s biggest song by far, “My Number,” which got the already-captivated audience jumping up and down and throwing their hands skyward.
Over the course of the approximately 80-minute performance, Foals expertly trotted through songs from almost every corner of its discography. While more than a third of the set list was culled from the new record (which is part one of two installments the band has planned for 2019), Philippakis and company made sure to do justice to songs from each of their earlier releases. After the band feigned goodbye with a pre-encore performance of raucous Holy Fire standout “Inhaler,” Foals re-emerged to reward the attentive and energetic audience with two more offerings: “What Went Down” and “Two Steps, Twice.” During a lengthy instrumental interlude in the middle of the final number, Philippakis played guitar and walked the entirety of the balcony before making his way back down to the stage to bring the soaring set in for an admirable landing.
With the second segment of Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost due out this fall, it’s safe to assume it won’t be too long before Foals make their way back to Milwaukee—probably for another stop at The Rave—again for what’s sure to be yet another outstanding show. We can’t wait.
On The Luna
Mountain At My Gates
Red Socks Pugie
What Went Down
Two Steps, Twice