We don’t breed future festival headliners anymore. That’s the one-liner reeled out year after year - depending on who you talk to, and just how past it they are, it’s either the fault of the festivals for not taking risks or the industry as a whole for not producing worthy bands. Either way, it’s nonsense.
There aren’t many bands quite like Foals. Homegrown talent with more road miles (and less twattery) than Jeremy Clarkson, they’ve grafted like few others could even dream of. Announced today as headlining Reading and Leeds this summer, it’s set to be both a crowning moment for a band who deserve the slot like few others and an important leap forward for festival season at large.
It’ll mark the group’s sixth appearance at the festival, and the cherry on top of a slow-cooked bake. From humble, admittedly sketchy beginnings on the Carling Stage (that’s Festival Republic to you and I) in 2007, they’ve taken their time. A methodical climb from Carling, via NME / Radio 1, to a third-down slot on the main stage itself. You could practically feel them chomping at the heels of the two above them - Chase & Status and Eminem, both of which fell flat in the wake of Foals’ sunset stormer.
Elsewhere, they’ve proven their worth on both festival and non-festival stages across the globe. Glastonbury 2013’s Other Stage slot was evidence they were ready, the crowd’s reaction drowning out the sound system of the biggest music festival in the world with ease. That same year, they headlined Latitude - the final stepping stone to bill-topping greatness, and a taster of their prowess when not trapped in a lower slot by lesser bands above them.
‘Two Steps Twice’ live at Glastonbury 2013
“Foals fan or otherwise, to claim they’re not ready is ignorance in the extreme; a wilful blind eye to their slow and steady evolution into the most important British band in a generation”
Since then, they’ve released ‘What Went Down’, the finest album of their career and a rocket packed with another ten festival firestarters. Next month they take to Wembley Arena, and it already feels fit to burst as their stature continues to swell.
Bands like Foals should be celebrated, not snarked at. To roll your eyes at a band who’ve built up to a moment like they’ve been offered this summer is to take an axe to the knees of every aspiring young group and torpedo the very notion of hard graft and musical development. Pairing them in the co-headline slot with Disclosure is a needless, almost insulting safety net from Festival Republic - Foals fan or otherwise, to claim they’re not ready is ignorance in the extreme; a wilful blind eye to their slow and steady evolution into the most important British band in a generation, influential like we haven’t seen in decades.
Yannis might not shy away from an outrageous statement or twelve, undoubtedly irking those who harbour a desire for a return to ‘true rockstars’ until there’s one right up in their face, gobbing and screaming like the best of them. But he knows the game he’s playing. On stage, it’s brought to life - the antagonist supreme, goading his throng into a frenzy. Reading and Leeds are chaos; that’s their charm. With Yannis at the head of it all, it’s going to explode. Writing them off before they’ve even lit the match is going to look very silly indeed.