The first time I saw Foals play Denver’s Ogden Theatre back in June 2013, I forgot to bring my dancing shoes. That was a huge mistake. Last night, I was more prepared, knowing full well that the UK indie rockers would do everything in their power to make people bust a move, even if they weren’t feeling like dancing themselves.
Before the band could spark up this dance party, Kiev kicked off the night with its unique brand of eccentric, somewhat murky pop. Underneath frontman Robert Brinkerhoff’s pitchy draw, effect-laded saxophone melodies and fuzzy guitar riffs melded with sticky basslines and syncopated drum grooves to create a beautiful little ball of texture that the audience tossed around to loosen up.
Hailing from Orange, California, this was the quartet’s fifth show out on the road with Foals. “We’ve watched them every night,” Brinkerhoff told the crowd. “You don’t know how lucky you are to see a band this big in this small of a room. Keep them coming back so we can play with them!”
Denver Foals fans do have it good. Since playing the Larimer Lounge in 2010, the quintet has kept coming back to consistently rock the Ogden, despite their proneness to altitude sickness. Last night, it seems the elevation was really dragging each member down.
It took an anti-climactic intro and a couple of rickety songs (“Snake Oil,” “Olympic Airways”) for the band to get in the groove. They finally hit their stride on the funky shuffle of “My Number” and brutal breakdowns of “Providence” off 2013’s Holy Fire, but abruptly slowed everything down with “Give it All” from last year’s What Went Down.
The setlist wasn’t the only thing askew. Compared to past Ogden gigs, frontman Yannis Philippakis did not partake in any of his usual off-stage antics (e.g. walking around the venue while playing guitar; jumping off balconies into the outstretched arms of his adoring fans, etc).
But this change of pace was okay. Instead of getting raucous, Philippakis got reflective on slow burners like “A Knife in the Ocean” and “Spanish Sahara.” He even played the tender “Late Night” just before the encore as a pre-Mother’s Day gift for his “mum.”
The final push to scuff up the dance floor came in the encore when Foals launched into the charged-up rocker “What Went Down,” then went in for the kill with frenetic math-rock anthem “Two Steps Twice” from 2008’s Antidotes.
It may have taken some time but, in the end, Foals delivered their dancey goods and got everyone clapping and jumping along in unison. Hopefully when they come to Denver next time (their sixth visit, to be exact), they’ll be used to this thing we Coloradans call “mountain air.”