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As these shoots tend to go, time is tight, and this was no exception. I watched Foals perform a blistering set for the Seattle radio station, KEXP, and was blown away by the tight rhythms and the kinetic energy they exude. Foals are surely one of the best live acts I’ve witnessed in recent years. They’ve been labeled as math-rock and post-punk and even “Afro-beat”, but why classify Foals? I’ve tried and still come up short. Let’s just call it unorthodox, compelling pop music. So the challenge was before them— to play their schizophrenic sounds in an acoustic format… Foals acoustic?

It was a hot day. While waiting outside in the heat thinking of a nearby location, Walter unpacked the recently-shipped acoustic bass. The rest of Foals filtered out of the building and gathered. Across the street from the radio station is a small city park, Denny Park. Simple enough, we’d walk across the street to shoot a few songs.

Walter, Yannis, and Jimmy sat on a bench in the center of the park in the warm sun, leaving the drummer, Jack, and keyboardist, Edwin, behind. Jimmy’s foot was injured and bandaged. Looking out of place and somewhat uncomfortable, they were ready to start. I think there was just one take of “Red Socks Pugie” before the subtle, alluring version shown here.

Moving to a new setting in the shade, the three Foals kneeled on the grass nearby. Though I would have gladly kept filming all afternoon, after a while the lyric, “Sun’s up we wait all day… “, seemed to match the situation because unlike “Red Socks Pugie”, there were about eight takes of “Olympic Airways”. Even so, what’s presented here is an abridged version. It had to do with being short on time, disruptive passers-by, as well as Yannis’ apparent discomfort with projecting his voice in a park and without amplification. And though Yannis’ vocals are restrained, it works well with this concise, stripped-down version. The one interruption left in is the plane heard flying overhead which is rather fitting assuming the song might have something to do with the Greek airline company.

It was over in a flash. They were running behind schedule. I said thanks and goodbye and was on my way with an acoustic Foals take-away… unorthodox, compelling pop music.

Steve / One Shot Seattle