Notes: Foals @ Red Bull Sound Select 30 Days In LA @ The Wiltern, November 29, 2015
Bringing the curtain down (well, almost: there’s still the matter of the final “secret show” on the 30th) on the 2015 edition of the popular, if slightly awkwardly titled, Red Bull Sound Select Presents: 30 Days in LA, Oxford U.K. rock outfit Foals throttled a sold out Wiltern with an electric set late Sunday evening. Grimes may have had the most buzz kicking off 30 Days in LA at the Mayan in sync with her new LP drop, but Foals were arguably the biggest get in this year’s slate of shows.
The five piece, now Stateside touring What Went Down, their excellent 4th long player, released this Summer, are at the height of their powers, stuffing an arena-sized rock show in the midsize theater’s confines. They’ve nailed their unique mix of big fat riffs, shoutable choruses, danceable beats, groovy high octave guitar noodling while refining their more delicate slow burning numbers. The ecstatic response from the audience may take one aback; Foals are connecting viscerally with a fervent audience. It may well be the make or break moment for them, having honed their sound and their live show to this high point. Can they ascend from here to the big time ranks of the likes of, say, Muse? We say yes.
In it’s 2nd annual incarnation 30 Days In LA is has fast become a familiar deal–60 acts/30 shows/30 consecutive nights spread over our familiar venues, ticket prices healthily discounted from the usual. Viewed from afar, the verdict on this year’s edition would seem to be far and away positive–30 sold out shows, including a blinded “secret show”. The cultural conversation seems to have moved on (mostly) from questions of “selling out” or wondering whether these sort of brand-sponsored events have any bearing on artistic integrity. These and other branded events put on by the likes of Sonos, Pandora, Stub Hub are taken as signs of the times and avidly attended. People want simple, economical delivery of music, live and recorded. Once the basic buy-in is accepted–a minimal “membership” sign-up, the cost the usual data age terms and conditions–one finds that RBSS has done a relatively tasteful, even artful job with the design of the event–sleek signage, an installation of retro-futuristic screens spotlighting this year’s artists installed through the Wiltern lobby, a simple small wordless twin tauruses logo above the stage. On the way out the door, gratis goodie bags with Foals team pendants were given away. All in all, perhaps this kindler, gentler way–instead of the hard sell–is the new model for branded cultural events.
Photos by the Red Bull Sound Select photo pool.