Lately it’s seemed like a lot of the indie bands that have coasted through Indianapolis weren’t here that long before. Good shows though they may be, the excitement — the thrill of the new — is absent. Frequent concert goers want the thrill, which is why the Foals and Surfer Blood show at Deluxe Friday night had extra sizzle. (The Swans/Low pairing later this summer has a similar vibe.) Surfer Blood had never played Indy. I can’t be 100 percent certain on Foals, but if they have been here, it’s been quite some time.
Surfer Blood’s new record, Pythons, is due next month, but this was the first chance for Indy fans to catch killer Astro Coast tracks like Swim and Floating Vibes as well as stand-outs from their Tarot Classics EP, like Miranda and I Was Wrong. The four-piece was ferocious, deftly balancing their modernized surfer rhythms with the power-pop elements that make the songs such hooky delights. Lead singer JP Pitts sounded especially strong and the band seemed to be enjoying themselves. At one point Pitts allowed guitarist Thomas Fekete to draw cat whiskers on his face with a Sharpie before hopping down into the audience to sing a tune. I hadn’t listened to Astro Coast in some time, but their set had me anxious to get it back in the player. I hope to see them again soon.
Oxford, UK band Foals has been building a solid resume for several years now. The band’s 2008 record, Antidotes, was one of that year’s best, and newest, Holy Fire, is also very good. Although I enjoyed their set in Deluxe, I had some difficulty staying engaged. Foals has a sweeping sound that at times felt too big for the room.
Foals merges the U2 guitar vibe with dance beats — call it a sharper, more nuanced version of Temper Trap — and it can suffer from saturation. While early set songs like Balloons and My Number made me want to dance, mid-set tempo changers Milk and Black Spiders and Spanish Sahara sent my mind elsewhere. In no way, however, can I deny the impact of Holy Fire’s huge Inhaler. It was wicked.
I enjoyed the performance but I’d be curious to experience Foals in a larger venue where their sound could explode. For now, I’m content to listen to their studio recordings.
What did you think of the show?