Foals / JPNSGRLS

Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC, August 7

Foals / JPNSGRLSCommodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC, August 7
Photo: Christine McAvoy
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UK rockers Foals stormed the Commodore Ballroom last night (August 7) in Vancouver, marking the first of their sold-out two-night stint at the venue. Local band JPNSGRLS (pronounced Japanese Girls) were the first to take the stage, bringing theatrics, energy and charm — largely courtesy of frontman Charlie Kerr.
 
JPNSGRLS played boisterous rock songs that were wordy (at times too much so), Kerr reminiscent of Panic! At The Disco's Brendon Urie. Their sound was akin to that of Taking Back Sunday, and although quite different from that of Foals, they got the crowd excited enough, setting the tone for a raucous evening.
 
Foals took the stage to the programmed, anticipatory beat of "Snake Oil," off 2015's What Went Down, launching into the snarling track with intensity. The crowd hung onto frontman Yannis Philippakis' every phrase and antic throughout the night. He referenced the band's first Vancouver performance in 2008 at now-defunct venue Richards On Richards, expressing approval of Justin Trudeau ("who seems to be the only politician that isn't falling apart"), Stanley Park and Tim Hortons. The band stuck to a set consistent with many of their recent performances, taking fans through their four albums, the focus being on What Went Down and 2013's Holy Fire.
 
Juxtapositions strengthened the performance, the band shifting from the math rock of "Olympic Airways" to the anthemic pop of "My Number," and the electricity of "Providence" to the tortured drama of "Spanish Sahara." Foals deftly play to extremes, which made for wonderfully rowdy performances of monstrous tracks like "What Went Down," "Inhaler" and their last song, an extended, heightened version of "Two Steps, Twice" and standout performances of the more revelatory, introspective moments that stand out in the band's work.
 
Onstage last night, the gorgeous, languid "A Knife in the Ocean" allowed Yannis and multi-instrumentalist Jimmy Smith's guitar work to shift and contort, which isn't often the case with Foals' tightly wound arrangements. Each member of Foals contributed to a glorious wall of sound, showcasing the band's cohesion and focus. They know just when to explode in true rock'n'roll fashion — and how to expertly rein it all back in again.

 
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