Announced with a few hours notice, Foals took the second day of Reading Festival by surprise by performing an intense 6-song set on the NME/Radio 1 Stage (August 29).
The Oxford band shared the news on Twitter a few hours before their performance, with the tent filling as their performance approached. They appeared in slot left vacant between Twin Peaks and Slaves.
Frontman Yannis Phillippakis greeted the crowd, many of whom still didn’t know who the special guests were going to be, by saying “good morning, Reading!” With huge cheers from the crowd, and the band bathed in red light, they kicked off the show with ‘My Number’.
During the first verse, a fan wearing a horse mask climbed onto a friend’s shoulders. Within seconds, many in the front rows had joined him, and the crowd quickly turned into a sea of flailing limbs.
“It’s so good to be back,” said Phillippakis. “Thanks so much for coming out and seeing us, if you don’t know who we are, we’re Foals.” It’s safe to say that the majority crammed inside the tent knew exactly who they were, with the crowd roaring along to ‘Mountain At My Gates’, taken from the five-piece’s fourth album ‘What Went Down’, which was released yesterday (August 28).
During the song the singer thumped his chest in time with drummer Jack Bevan’s beats. He moved to the edge of the stage, raised a finger and said to fans that Foals last played the NME/ Radio 1 stage in 2008, adding “It feels like our home”.
Bouyed by the applause he continued, “Are you ready Reading? Are you fucking ready Reading?” The cheering was cacophonous, and only got louder when Foals played ‘Inhaler’. The slower ‘Spanish Sahara’ followed, with the audience following Philippakis’ lead and clapping along to the entire song.
Penultimate track ‘Red Socks Pugie’ sparked a similar reaction, with Jimmy Smith thrashing violently on his guitar. As the tent filled with noise once again, Philippakis introduced final song ‘What Went Down’. “Our record came out yesterday and this is from it, let’s level this place.”
Philippakis, his white t-shirt soaked through with sweat, headbanged and rushed around the stage, stopping only to scream its chorus and rake his hands through his hair. The band stopped playing and the frontman led the crowd through the chorus one last time.
He jumped down from the stage to join his fans, who held him aloft as he screamed the final lines. With his bandmates already departed, he returned to the stage and said, “Thank you so fucking much Reading!” before walking off.