Foals at KL Live. Photo: Upront Arena.

Imagine an arena packed to the brim, with Foals rocking the atmosphere on stage. That, dear readers, was the scene playing out last Tuesday (4 March) in the heart of KL.

Hailing from Oxford, this English indie rock band has been steadily rising through the charts since their debut album Antidotes was released in 2008.

The evening kicked of with Robotron 5000 on the decks. One half of the Dangerdisko duo, he got the early crowd grooving to his beats. Pretty soon, he set the pace for the night’s other opening act, Singapore’s Monster Cat.

With their latest full-length album The Violet Hour launched just the day before, Monster Cat played out to the growing crowd with their melodious rock tunes and edgy vocals. They were very loud, very fun and they won me over as a new fan straight away. But chants of “we want Foals” were soon heard from below. The crowd was getting restless, hungry for the main highlight.

It was drawing past 9.30pm when Foals finally took to the stage with “Prelude”. Amid shooting green laser lights, the audience immediately went wild with excitement. Energy levels went up several notches. “Cause I feel, I feel alive, I feel, I feel alive”, the band sang and it couldn’t be any livelier. Their hit “My Number” got everyone singing along with the band.

 

Jumping off the stage at certain points during their show, he leaned in close enough for those in the mosh pit to grab him. The tempo of the night was rising fast.

 

Yannis Philippakis, Foals’ frontman, teased the crowds with his antics. Jumping off the stage at certain points during their show, he leaned in close enough for those in the mosh pit to grab him. The tempo of the night was rising fast. Headbanging and jumping around aside, some members of the audience were also trying to crowd surf.

Watching them live was certainly electrifying, especially for some of their more emotional tracks. Listening to “Milk and Black Spiders”, I was soon lost in the sorrowful beats, and the mournful “Spanish Sahara” was also broodingly beautiful. Of course, Foals didn’t miss crowd pleasers like “Inhaler” and “Providence”. There was a good mix of tracks from all three of their albums as they alternated between songs seamlessly.

Speaking to frontman Yannis Philippakis in an interview before the show, he told the media about the how the band draws a certain amount of influence from their lives. “I think friendship is an important part of it. We have to be close to the people we work with”, he said.

Yannis cited an example of how Dave Ma (who has directed many music videos for them) was there from the start of “Spanish Sahara”. Hence, he was as emotionally involved within the process as they were when they wrote it and was thus able to easily translate their vision into reality.

Foals remain humble to their roots as a band who started out in Oxford. Summing up how they feel about being rockstars now, Yannis puts it quite aptly. “It feels like the band has gotten bigger, but like my life hasn’t gotten any bigger. We still live in the same way we’ve always live.” Enjoying the ride as it comes, the band do not think of themselves as trendsetters.

Clearly the crowd thought otherwise, as the audience grew into a frenzy during the show. The band was gregarious and bold, the sounds intense. Though the venue for the show this time was slightly bigger than the Bee’s intimate setting, it was nevertheless still contained enough for everyone to feel part of the show and to revel in what Foals had to offer that night.

Upfront at The Bee (which kicked off in January last year) has provided fans with an intimate live music setting for a range of dynamic, up and coming international acts such as Delphic, Grimes and Ólafur Arnalds. However, the first Upfront Arena show was bigger, louder and more raucous. Foals was the first band to perform under that banner, which will run alongside the usual Upfront series at the Bee.

Returning for the encore, Foals ended the night with the very upbeat “Two Steps, Twice”. As we danced the night away, we couldn’t help but wonder in anticipation about the next band that Upfront Arena has in store for us.

 Lyn Ong