Foster the People Marquee Theatre 4/15/14
It's official: Foster the People is now, well, for the people. Gone are the days of the band's crowds being elitist and hip, and now we enter the age when 40-somethings know more words to Foster the People songs than you do. This is great news for the Los Angeles-based group, which has risen to elevated status in just a few short years. The group's popularity could be measured in its selling out the Marquee Theatre on Tuesday night. Supported by the art and music collective Young & Sick -- whose single "Glass" may be one of the most fun songs I've heard this year -- it was an evening of straight-ahead pop that anyone could shamelessly enjoy.
As soon as Mark Foster pranced out on stage and grabbed the mic stand like it owed him money, the audience lost its collective minds. He has that all-encompassing frontman trait in which his stage antics are just as engaging as his musicianship, able to play all sides of the venue to great effect. Whipping through a few cuts from the band's latest release, Supermodel, Foster the People then made like James Murphy: They shut up and played the hits. When it's laid out in a setlist, you realize just how many singles their debut Torches provided and how many people know every single word to their songs, even as the band blazed through song after song with very little banter between them.
If you weren't one of those fans that knew every single word, you might have had a hard time deciphering Foster's lyrics in some moments. The Marquee is a very snappy room with interesting acoustics, lending it a percussive sound rather than one suited to vocals. On newer songs that I wasn't fully familiar with, I found myself struggling to make out the words. I've seen shows with great sound here, but this wasn't one of them.
What was wonderful, however, was the band's stage presence. They're always a group of guys -- six of them on this occasion -- that beat the hell out of their instruments and seem to enjoy doing so. If there's anything new about this tour cycle and its inclusion of Supermodel songs, it's the raw power of the band's rhythm section. God bless Mark Pontius: The guy writes some really great drum parts and then has to go out and do that crazy cymbal stop on "Pseudologica Fantastica" a hundred times every single night. That's insanity for him alone, but this really is a record that has a lot more percussion to it than Torches. That translates to an even more engaging live set, replete with Foster and multi-instrumentalist Isom Innis going apeshit on whatever poor floor toms happen to be nearby.
Yes, "Pumped Up Kicks" was in the encore and, no, it wasn't the dance party version that Foster the People has played in the years past. As ubiquitous as that song is, there were enough hits in their set that I could have actually left the show without hearing "Pumped Up Kicks" and been fully satisfied. They're not one-trick ponies anymore, and shows like this just prove that as Foster the People's sound evolves, they're able to bring that same fire to the stage in spades.
Last Night: Foster the People and Young & Sick at the Marquee Theatre.
The Crowd: The oddest, most heterogeneous mixture I've seen at a big-ticket show since moving here. The old were old and bobbed along, the young were fratty and too busy smirking or wildin' out. The rest were very white and busy drinking their mixed drinks. Everybody sang along.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Dude, I'm not dancing to this." Yeah, bro, because you look so chill standing there. You're not at a Smiths show -- move your ass.
Personal Bias: Though it's a very different room than the one I last saw them play, Foster and Co. are still incredibly adept at filling space and putting on a no-frills performance -- just a good, versatile pop band.
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