Foals brings epic sound to ACL

Already huge stars in their native England, and one of the UK’s most-acclaimed live acts, headlining festival stages from Reading to Glastonbury to Coachella, and a rapturously received set at this year’s namesake Austin City Limits Music Festival, Foals brought their epic sound to our stage for their debut Austin City Limits taping.

Following taped intro music, the band started the show with “Snake Oil,” a galloping rocker from the Oxford quintet’s latest album What Went Down. Foals then reached back to its 2008 debut Antidotes for “Olympic Airways,” which rode a basstastic postpunk groove to glory. That tune segued directly into the similarly rhythm-heavy “My Number,” from the fivesome’s third LP Holy Fire. “Providence,” from the same record, flowed from a lush synth bed to a skittering funk rocker before erupting in guitar fury. “Give It All” followed, its brooding atmosphere bringing the energy to a simmer rather than boil. Then it was time for the song that introduced them to American audiences, the radio smash “Mountain At My Gates,” and it didn’t disappoint: the hit soared into the stratosphere and had the crowd jumping.

Taking a breather from WWD, Foals dug further back into its catalog for the dreamy “Spanish Sahara” and the jangly “Red Sox Pugie.” The band then went into the atmospheric “Late Night,” before diving into the ether with the psychedelic anthem “A Knife in the Ocean.” Foals finished the main set with the widescreen “Inhaler,” which ranged from a sort of ethereal disco to grinding guitar grunge and featured a surprise visit to the crowd from charismatic singer Yannis Philippakis. That wasn’t the end, of course; the band returned for a grand finale. The hugely anthemic title track of What Went Down killed as Philippakis once again mingled, and the audience showed their appreciation loud and long. This was one well-oiled, passionate rock machine, and we can’t wait for you see then when this show airs early next year as part of our Season 42 on your local PBS station.