Foster The People
June 20, 2012
Better than… yet another “Pumped Up Kicks” remix.
Last night, Foster the People leader Mark Foster made it known that it was good to be home. “It's crazy how much the feeling changes when you get to the West Coast,” Foster mused to the Gibson crowd last night. Clad in a white denim suit, with his iconic sparkly floor tom in front of him and a black Fender guitar around his shoulders, Foster's nod to the Golden State was echoed back by all six thousand screaming fans.
If anything is to be said of Foster the People's set, it's that Foster himself is an ideal rock frontman. The 28-year-old is comically vivacious onstage, dancing from end to end while still managing to hammer piano keys, play percussion, and rip on an electric guitar somewhere in between.
His ADHD energy was perfect for the surreal stage decor, which included an Aztec sun with an LCD screen inside of it, and a intricately doodled backdrop of a cityscape. Backing musicians included bassist Cubbie Fink and drummer Mark Pontius, as well as touring players Isom Innis and Sean Cimino. The band had a terse energy that made them seem ready to come apart at the seams at any moment. They provided the perfect foil for Foster's dynamic vocals, which ranged from the fierce (“Waste,” “Broken Jaw”) to balladeer introspection on “Ruby.”
Surprisingly, Foster the People played like they had something to prove. Even though they're the band behind “Pumped Up Kicks” — the everywhere-you-go song of 2011 — they possess a dynamic range in their songwriting, as evidenced by 2011's Torches.
From the grinding synth of opener “Miss You” to the open-hearted “I Would Do Anything For You,” the group showcased their odd mix of industrial noises and crazy-strong pop sensibilities. It seemed to have the desired singalong affect on the diverse crowd that was an odd mixture of aging yuppies and the expected teenyboppers.
As expected at a show in the midst of crafting their sophomore release, they brought out a newer song that Foster claimed was about “the awkwardness of love,” prefaced by a surprisingly bitter anecdote about trying to maintain relationships in Los Angeles. (Overtones of Taylor Swift, anyone?)
Regardless, a song called “Love” was a organ-driven affair that was leaned toward a more centerfield pop approach. Later, they brought out the USC marching band for “Houdini,” paying homage Fleetwood Mac's infamous The Dance. Of course, “Pumped Up Kicks” was the staple encore performance — Foster looked as tired of playing the song as we are of hearing it, but ramped the energy up with a confetti-filled dance break.
Not surprising, having skyrocketed from a KROQ “Locals Only” staple to arena sell-out in a scant seventeen months, Foster the People is full of crossover appeal. They're infectiously entertaining, whether they're blanketing their audience with bubble machines or showcasing Foster's slick footwork. Based on their surreal dance party of a set, they're going to continue to be an L.A. favorite long after “Pumped Up Kicks” is a memory.
Personal bias: Look at them. They're like falsetto-equipped, funk-heavy male models. You can't not love them.
Random notebook dump: I'm highly considering transcribing the amazing commentary from the trio of gay men a row back.
Overheard in the crowd: “Oh my god, are they going to play 'Tusk' next?”
Set list below
Hustling (Life On The Nickel)
I Would Do Anything For You
Call It What You Want
Color On The Walls (Don't Stop)
Warrior (feat. Kimbra)
Pumped Up Kicks