My jaw dropped as I entered United Palace on Friday night. The theatre stuck out like a sore thumb, randomly placed amongst bodegas and old housing complexes in deep Washington Heights. This venue looked fit for royalty. Its lavish architecture consisted of stenciled gold ceilings with red velvet staircases leading up to a mural of a turquoise goddess, making me feel like I was in an ancient Indian shrine.
Even though United Palace is a seated venue, most of us were out of our seats, trying to shimmy our way as close to the stage as possible (yes, there was a lot of shimmying). The first ten rows closest to the stage were completely abandoned. Whoever those seats belonged to had already been rocking out in the crowd that had formed as the two openers rocked the stage from 8-10 pm.
Foals finally hit the stage at around 10:15 pm. They opened with a hardcore prelude that had the crowd, even those who remained in their assigned seats, in a frenzy. At this point, the gold carved architecture ceilings above the stage had technicolor pink, blue, green, and purple lights seeping through onto the audience. Amongst the heavy regal theme, in the center of the room, there was a disco ball. It reminded us all where we were, and why we were there.
The second song they performed was "Snake Oil," one of their more rock n' roll songs. My inner rocker was definitely out. Anyone who knows me well might've been a tad embarrassed to see me rocking out as hard as I was. There were a lot of arms swaying, finger pointing, and a lot of head bobbing.
They played one of their most popular songs, "My Number" fourth from their 2013 album, Holy Fire. This song was definitely my favorite. The vibe was incredible. Everyone was jamming out and singing along to the chorus, "You don't have my number, we don't need each other now."
Lead singer, Yannis Philippakis, is known for leaping and swinging off balconies during performances. Since this venue didn't quite offer any safe way to make that happen, Yannis crowd surfed his way through the venue instead. He would randomly disappear and then appear in random parts of the venue. At one point he was found on the balcony during a guitar solo.
The British indie-rock duo finished strong with "Two Steps, Twice," a song from their 2008 album, Antidotes. The guy standing next to me said he hadn't listened to any of Foals' newer music. He used to listen to them religiously when Antidotes came out nine years ago. He went from zero to 100 real quick when they played the oldie. It was marvelous.
Foals left everyone with an undeniable high on Friday night. From what I've seen and heard, this band never disappoints. They won Best Album at the NME Awards 2016 in February. Overall, the United Palace venue paired with Foals' performance made for a perfect Friday evening.