Towards the end of September, the Crystal Ballroom’s fall season kicked off with Foals, who recently wowed critics with their powerful new album, What Went Down. They brought in a sold-out crowd, but many fans weren’t prepared for the live onslaught.
As the crowd of 1,500 swarmed into the ballroom, there were many whispers about how they might behave during the headlining set.
“It’s an older crowd. They’ll mostly stand still I think,” said one attendee.
“I’m not too worried,” said another. “It won’t be that kind of crowd.”
Through openers Kiev and Bear Hands, these statements held true, even as Bear Hands’ set approached the hour mark. Though both acts owned the stage during their sets, the crowd stayed engaged but relatively reserved throughout.
It wasn’t until minutes before Foals took the stage that the true nature of the crowd became evident. Fans shoved closer and closer to the stage, decreasing the space between each other and increasing the sweat, heat and anxiety of anyone with claustrophobia.
As the band kicked off with “Prelude” and “Snake Oil,” the entirety of the Crystal Ballroom floor opened into a massive mosh pit. People slammed into each other, grabbed at each other, jumped, screamed and even used other fans’ backs as drums.
The crowd’s energy and chaos never slowed as Foals played through songs from throughout their career. It seemed that everyone sang along to every track—even the fans who weren’t prepared to be dragged into a pit. Despite the mass chaos on the floor, the entire ballroom fell into the mindset of the music.
Kicking off their encore, Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis took full advantage of the crowd’s behavior, jumping onto the barricade as he growled out their latest album’s title track—watch the music video below. As the band launched into the chorus, Philippakis lunged into the crowd to surf atop the fans. The ballroom moved like a mass of water, holding him up above the surface before bringing him safely back to land.
Despite bruises and sore limbs, the energy of the crowd factored into Foals’ set being a memorable kickoff to what is sure to be an amazing autumn season at Portland’s Crystal Ballroom.