Foals open day one of Croatia’s INmusic Festival with a future rock firestorm


The first day of the Zagreb festival also featured sets from Johnny Marr, Kurt Vile, The Hives, and more

“We’re gonna fucking do one tonight,” Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis tells the crowd gathered on the idyllic wooded island in the middle of Lake Jarun in Zagreb tonight (June 24). Firing up the angular moon rock of ‘On The Luna’, from this year’s ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1’ album, they mutate through the amorphous funk of ‘Mountain At My Gates’ toward the funk-punk frolics of their debut album standout ‘Olympic Airways’, with its frantic chanted chorus of “Disappear!” It’s a fiery start to the beginning of their INmusic Festival headline set and an indicator of the way they intend to rage on.

‘My Number’ and ‘Black Gold’ introduce a more tropical disco feel in keeping with the sun-beaten surroundings before Yannis tells the crowd to “smoke it if you got it” and steers the set into dubbier territory with ‘Syrups’. The leader and guitarist Jimmy Smith snake dance with each other centre stage, swapping gnome-like riffs as they move. An emotive and magnificent ‘Spanish Sahara’ lifts the set into the atmospheric stratosphere, where the space-funk of ‘Exits’ runs into some very dark matter indeed and ‘In Degrees’ clicks into a truly galactic groove.

“We’re gonna play you some rock songs now,” Yannis succinctly declares, rounding off the set with the AI punk of ‘White Onions’, the storm-trooping funk of ‘Inhaler’, ‘What Went Down’’s dark devil blues and a frenetic ‘Two Steps, Twice’. “We’d play all night if we could,” the frontman says as Foals make their exit, the Zagreb crowd cursing the band’s curfew right along with them.

Earlier, Kurt Vile & The Violators grace the main stage with Vile’s hallucinogenic brand of AM radio rock, merging looping acid country tracks like ‘Bassackwards’ with more febrile drawl rock numbers like ‘Puppet To The Man’, dedicated to “all the corrupt politicians in America.” Meanwhile, Skindred get the first moshpits of the day windmilling their shirts above their heads with their rap-metal tirade.

Self-proclaimed “rock’n’roll masters of the universe” The Hives prove they’re still a ferocious garage-punk affair. Met onstage by a large kung fu roadie and dressed in white dinner jackets and black bow ties, they tear into a set of rabid anthems riots with ‘Come On’ and ‘Walk Idiot Walk’, with singer Holwin’ Pelle Almqvist leaping from the drum riser and declaring, “We are going to spontaneously combust and turn ourselves into ash and flames and explosions and all sorts of fireworks” before a mighty ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’ and introducing the band as immortal, legendary, evolutionary wonders with trophy cabinets stuffed with Oscars and Emmys. With 25 minutes to go, they clearly run out of songs and Pelle resorts to killing time during ‘Tick Tick Boom’ with endless crowd participation activities, but closing with urgent chant-along epic ‘Return The Favour’ only serves to prove they’re gaining even more punk velocity as they age.

In the shadow of the gigantic Tesla Tower in the middle of the island, Fontaines D.C. brings their clatter of pure attitude to the Hidden Stage, singer Grian Chatten prowling the stage and stabbing the ground with his mic stand like a ball of constrained, righteous energy. Meanwhile, on the World Stage, Johnny Marr speckles his motorik, sci-fi solo tunes – ‘New Dominions’, ‘Call The Comet’, disco rock marvel ‘Easy Money’ – with Smiths and Electronic tracks like ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’, ‘Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before’, ‘Living In Sin’, ‘How Soon Is Now?’ And a joyously received ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’. He even covers Depeche Mode’s desert sex monster ‘I Feel You’, adding further indie-noir kudos to a set already brimming with it. Seems like everyone, Marr included, had the same idea as Yannis on day one. 

INmusic continues today (June 25) with a headline set from Suede and appearances from Garbage, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, and Black Honey.