Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Foals and Bonde Do Role at The Spitz


Apparently, East London arts institution The Spitz, like so many of the more cottage industry enterprises that give that part of London its character, has been served notice by its landlords. But nobody told Foals that this was a wake as they ripped through yet another stunning set at the venue last night, following a clutch of dates in the capital that have seen them leave jaws agape from King’s College to the Camden Crawl.

They didn’t actually make the stage until 11, in which time an influx of characters from the Arctic Monkey’s single “Brianstorm” arrived to watch recent Domino signing Bonde Do Role run through their party set. Like a favela funk take on the hip house of the early 90s, they jam together crude combinations of party beats and none-more-obvious classics from AC/DC to Cybertron. The result is probably too sophisticated to be strictly favela funk, funk Carioca or funk do morro (take your pick) – it really is more like a world music version of Doug Lazy. Great fun, anyway, with more energy than a Tuesday night deserves. There’s no point trying to analyse Bonde given the charm of funk Carioca itself, like most booty musics, lies in its crude energy.

Foals, of course, are an altogether different proposition, refreshingly smart in an era in which Brit rock is in danger of becoming a retrogressive embarrassment in the eyes of our American cousins. There’s no shortage of Devo and the like – channelled through Don Caballero - but what’s really interesting here are the more modern impulses. Techno is a big influence and it reveals itself in the complex oscillating melodies that chime between the two guitarists; ironically, it’s the guitars that bleep here more than the keyboards.

Facing each other on the tiny stage they jerk through precise, looping, ultra-clean and layered tracks that seem like the meeting point between math rock, minimal techno, punk funk and Timbaland. (In fact, I think someone in the crowd was shouting for a track actually called “Timbaland”, which would make perfect sense.) Ultra-tight, they play with the instinctive communication of a jam band and yet you know that there’s not a note out of place. And there’s a heaviness that a casual listen to current single “Hummer” won’t prepare you for with hardcore fans thrashing about at the front. An ace band. Here’s a clip of them in full flow at one of the showcases they performed at the South By Southwest industry shindig earlier this year…

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