by Justin Trudell
For those of us who got the Mother’s Day ritual out of the way by sundown, The 89X Birthday Bash was the highlight of Sunday night. Detroit’s Fillmore hosted an enticing rock & roll lineup composed of Joywave, Foals, and Silversun Pickups — any of which are legit headliners on their own.
Joywave got us started with a set that broke the fourth wall on more than one occasion. As evident by their music videos, Joywave don’t take themselves too seriously; it wasn’t a huge surprise to hear them make light, funny and self-deprecating quips. They do, however, work diligently at their craft and delivered a rollicking collection of songs that were perfectly timed and fashioned to tantalize. Silversun Pickups were impressively loud, undramatically emotive, and flawlessly wrapped up one hell of a memorable night. Joywave was a good time, Silversun Pickups were more impressive than we had anticipated, but Foals shone the brightest.
The Oxford, England indie quintet came out to a crowd that can be described as “familiar” with Foals, but not ready to fully commit. Nevertheless, lead singer Yannis Philippakis willed us to meet his level of intensity and most of us euphorically submitted. Foals commenced with a couple of hits (“My Number”, “Mountain At My Gates”) and cerebral songs (“Spanish Sahara”, “Olympic Airwaves”) that meant to satisfy both casual and hardcore fans. As is customary for Yannis, going more than five songs without leaping into the crowd is not tolerated.
Philippakis first venture into the audience came after only a few songs, as he showed off his impressive guitar skills up close and personal to the front row. He slashed his way through the first part of the guitar solo before finishing the rest while crowd surfing over the first four rows of fans. That wouldn’t be the last time we got to touch the frontman.
The set had been building for nearly an hour before Foals played the first few notes of “Inhaler” and sent the crowd into a frenzy. The primal screams from Philippakis shook the foundation of The Fillmore and got everyone’s attention. Foals concluded their set with their newest anthem, “What Went Down.” When the song reached the breakdown, Yannis began dumping a bottle of water on his head right before splashing some on the audience, then hoisted himself on one of the barriers, standing tall above the crowd. As the song built to a crescendo, Yannis took a leap into the audience and rode the waves of Detroiters. Needless to say, if you properly experienced Foals on Sunday night and weren’t already a fan, you are now.