Foals, Surfer Blood Fitzgerald's April 25, 2013
Thursday was quite the busy night in Houston, with most of the city's venues hosting national touring acts. Paramore and Gaslight Anthem were at the bigger rooms, but the real hot ticket was a sold-out showing of Foals and Surfer Blood at Fitzgerald's. It's been a while since both bands were in Houston, so crowd anticipation was thick throughout.
Most people in the building were there to see headliners Foals, but as soon as Surfer Blood hit the stage, a noticeable conglomerate of fans made their presence known. It had been two years since Surfer Blood last played in Houston, when they played the hidden gem at the House of Blues complex, the Bronze Peacock Room, and four years since their H-town debut at the once storied Mango's (remember that place?), where they opened up for local heroes Buxton. This was a far cry from either of those shows, and even if the Foals fans were the majority Thursday, Surfer Blood surely made quite the statement here.
The Floridians played most of their first album, Astro Coast, with a few new songs peppered in. While they were much heavier on the "surfer" than they were the "blood," the new songs reminded me of Blue Album/Pinkerton-era Weezer with an early Green Day edge, topped off with a dash of the Beach Boys for good measure.
Front man JP Pitts -- for some reason, I've had his number in my phone for the past four years -- took charge of the show and never let up. He wanted to keep playing, announcing late into their set that they had four more songs left, only to be told soon after they only had time for two. He was the most bummed-out person in the building after hearing that news.
Closing the set with their most popular number "Swim," the crowd seemed pretty content with the show they were just given. Foals, though, were definitely on everyone's mind at that point, which was apparent when Pitts announced they were set to come on next.
The show was already running about 45 minutes behind schedule, so by the time Foals finally made it to stage, the crowd was more than ready for them. Hipsters fought their way through the crowd, jockeying for position amongst those who had waited for over three hours for the headlining act, but noone seemed to really care.
This had to be one of the nicest crowds I've ever been a part of, and even though Foals were taking forever to start their set (they came on an hour after then originally posted), noone was making a big deal about it. Everyone was just happy they were given the chance to see a great band in such an intimate setting.
The only exception to that rule was this pair of obnoxious, very possibly intoxicated girls who couldn't seem to get settled wherever they went. (If you were anywhere on the left side of Fitz, you know exactly the pair of girls I'm talking about.) No matter where I planted myself, these two girls seemed to make their way in my area, dancing and bumping their way around like no one was watching.
It made it truly hard to take photos, let alone jot some notes in my notepad. Many folks around were talking loudly about their disdain for said ladies, but there was really nothing anyone could do about it. It wasn't until Foals' encore, when one of the girls decided to vomit all over the floor while still rocking out that anyone really took notice. Come on ladies, it's not even the weekend yet.
Back to the show.
Foals are really great at what they do, and that is hyping their crowd up so much that it eventually looks like the video for House of Pain's "Jump Around." Their sound is very distinct, mixing common indie Brit-rock with very danceable, percussive grooves.
Compared to past shows, their performance Thursday started out a bit subdued, but halfway through the set they really started to cut loose. It's hard not to completely fall in love with front man Yannis Philippakis, as he jaunts around stage with the swagger of a new-age hipster Mick Jagger. His undeniable presence on stage hasn't been matched by anyone I've caught in quite some time.
What I remember from the past couple times catching Foals, was Philippakis climbing on, over and around everything he possibly could. It took about three-quarters of the show for him to finally make Fitz his jungle gym -- surfing on the crowd while still playing guitar, making his way to the balcony so he could (dangerously) walk on the edge, and jumping on the speaker stacks as regularly as possible until the ending notes of the set.
The encore was short and sweet, but I was too busy trying to steer clear of those girls to pay enough attention. I know they played a new song to start the encore, and played "My Number" somewhere in the mix, but my mind was set on not stepping in the pool of vomit that I couldn't see but knew was most definitely there.
I don't blame those girls. If Foals had started on time, there wouldn't have been sufficient time to get them to that state. Hopefully, they weren't driving.
I would certainly hate to be the person responsible for mopping the Fitz floors Thursday.
Personal Bias: I just flat-out love Foals. Their energy is unmatchable by pretty much any band touring right now. Surfer Blood kick a whole bunch of ass too!
The Crowd: White. Drunk. Hip.
Overheard In the Crowd: "It's physics, and there is only so much physics"
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Random Notebook Dump: It's really cool-looking when a band dumps a whole bottle of water on someone in the crowd, but damn, I'm happy that I'm not that person.