Kansas City doesn’t usually dance at concerts, but if there were to ever be an exception to that rule, it would have been Friday night’s show at the Beaumont Club with Foals, Freelance Whales and The Naked and Famous.
Beaumont Club is usually one of the few venues that you can count on to start on time, but Friday, they actually started just a few minutes early. Unfortunately, many were still in line to get in when New Zealand’s The Naked and Famous took to the stage with “All of This,” the opening track off their debut album, Passive Me, Aggressive You. Then the familiar synth trickle intro to “Punching in a Dream” resounded across the venue. If the audience wasn’t already hooked on this band with the first song, this one did the trick. There’s no way to stand still for this addictive Passion Pit-esque tune. A little later in the set, audience member’s who had just seen that week’s episode of “Gossip Girl” and heard “The Sun” were treated to a live rendition of the song, which at times had musical similarities to some of Phoenix‘s more instrumental-based songs. “Girls Like You” and US radio hit “Young Blood” ended out the stellar set. Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers almost sounded even better live than on record as they traded vocals back and forth for the two final electropop numbers. Do yourself a favor: catch them live if you can. In a soon-to-be-posted PopWreckoning interview with bassist David Beadle, he says that the band should be back stateside for a headlining tour in Fall 2010.
“Cute,” “Adorable,” “Happy” are all words that come to mind as when New York five-piece Freelance Whales take to the stage next. But just because the band have a cutesy pop sound – thanks mostly to their avid use of glockenspiel – don’t brush them off as not serious music. They may sound like Owl City, but their songs also have the depth of a Death Cab for Cutie. The band played songs mostly off their debut album Weathervanes, many of which are familiar to through their popular use on TV shows and Starbucks commercials such as “Generator ^First Floor” as well as “Generator ^Second Floor.” But it has been just about a year since the release of their banjo-plucking swirl of a debut, so they also had plenty of new songs to share with the audience. The new songs still had the bright, sound that makes them so lovable, so look out for an official release of these songs soon. Of course, the song that really got the crowd’s attention was “Hannah,” which has winding musical phrases matching the winding spiralcase mentioned in the lyrics. This was a big singalong number that really got people smiling.
The UK’s dance-rock outfit Foals headlined the night’s electric lineup. About three years ago when this group came through the US right after their debut, Antidotes, release you could count on a band that sounded great, but seemed lost in their own little world on stage. They gyrated to their tunes, but never looked up from their hands. It made them come across as a little shy and uncertain of their own performance. Well in the three years since, they sure have changed their live show performance and they seem like a brand new band – one that’s confident in their playing and capable of embracing the audience. The result – they still sound great, but it’s even easier to get hooked as their new-found enthusiasm is contagious. It’s now as interesting to watch them as it is to listen.
Foals began with “Blue Blood,” the opening track off their sophomore release Total Life Forever. The set was an even mix of songs off that album and debut Antidotes, the second track alternated to the debut’s “Olympic Airways,” and then switched back to the sophomore release for “Total Life Forever.” The vocals on that song are just a blast to sing along to, “I knoooooow a place…” the audience howled along. “To your house, down to your house,” the audience seemed to follow singer Yannis Philippakis‘ every crescendo and decrescendo for this song. But as the Foals’ set went on, all eyes were on drummer Jack Bevan. The man was a machine and tore up nearly every beat. Walking around the Beaumont before the set, Bevan is an unassuming figure, easy to glance over. But behind the drum set? He’s a jaw-dropping power house. He often added to his challenging rhythms by standing from his seat before a song and clicking his sticks together to get the audience to clap a pattern, but then sitting back down to play an unexpected syncopated rhythm. Bevan was the reason songs such as “Spanish Sahara” stand out as such amazing dance numbers. Seriously fantastic.
Foals’ Set List:
Total Life Forever
Red Socks Pugie
The French Open
Two Steps, Twice
*Freelance Whales photos by Andrew Dunlap