Foals with Surfer Blood at the Deluxe at Old National Center was a surreal evening. Unfortunately this writer had issues accessing the performance due to a miscommunication, and missed Blondfire. Once the dust had settled, and I made my way into the show, Surfer Blood had kicked off their performance.
The lead singer of Surfer Blood is the sort of performer one rarely has the opportunity to see. Running around on stage and walking into the crowd to sing, he at one point asked the crowd to draw kitty whiskers on his face. The band themselves were terrific. Their harder surf rock sound kept the audience bobbing their heads at a steady tempo. "Demon Dance" was a real hip-swinging and toe-tapping tune. Honestly, it was hard not to sense tones of Animal Collective and earlier Talking Heads in their songs. These guys definitely charged up the group for the unforgettable experience that would be Foals.
When Foals took the stage, they did so in a subtle way. Decked out in predominately black outfits, this five-piece sort of just faded out from the dark stage and slowly built the tension of the room. Foals has become more about the gradual rise to the climax of a song, rather than the math-rock pickings of their first album. Whichever style of song they chose to play on Friday was fine by me.
Lead singer Yannis Philippakis commandeered the energy of the crowd like a well-seasoned captain of sound. Jumping off the stage to race around the room and play the guitar in the middle to the audience, Yannis exuded massive swagger. He and the rest of the band hung off the scaffolding of the stage at various times, and crowd surfed.
While their antics were supremely engaging, their musicianship was awesomely on point. Their emotional and gripping performances of "Alabaster" and "Spanish Sahara" left me in wide-eyed awe. Their ability to convey emotional depth through their lyricism and instrumentation makes Foals an extremely evocative band. After playing a solo encore song that verged on a spiritual experience , Yannis brought the rest of the group back out to play "Two Steps, Twice" and blew the crowd away.
As I left the Deluxe Room at the Old National Center, I couldn't help but smile with my Friday night's activities. Foals and Surfer Blood have molded this writer into a devoted fan.