Foster The People is kind of that opener band that you watch grow bigger and bigger until they finally made it. And by God, have they made it.
“Pumped Up Kicks” was the hands-down hit of last summer, the unavoidable catchy summer jam by a band that you hadn’t heard of quite yet. As a result, their debut album Torches took off undergound as well. It had enough pleasant material to support the band on tour, and it still does today as we found out through their June 21, 2012 show.
Another perk of such profound quick success is the band’s somewhat oversized budget. As a headliner, the band used their access to large venues like Chicago’s Congress Theater (which was a sold out show) to enable use of precise equipment and fill the stage with a large banner, wide media screens and even a prop door with a live astronaut with a bubble machine. We’re not making this up.
The wholly underrated Kimbra, slapping her tambourine like it was the force revolving the earth, passionately marched through her scat- and jazz-harmony-filled set with promisingly remarkable tunes before Tokyo Police Club opened heartily for FTP. Neither, arguably, deserved to be preliminary to a band as new or newer than themselves, but sometimes that’s simply the way the industry works.
For a band like Foster The People to make it big so fast would never have come without a great deal of talent, and that’s exactly what the L.A.-based act have to back up their recorded and hyped-up material.
Beginning with the tireless Mark Foster, the lead singer bounced across the stage to entertain each section with his signature sultry high-strung vocal energy and even contributing to piano and percussion on the occasional interlude. Backing him was not only the two founding members, bassist Cubbie Fink and drummer Mark Pontius but also two other touring members on a mix of percussion, guitar and synth, escalating the band’s already-full sonic effect to house-filler impact.
Much of FTP’s head-on set was the thick content of Torches, which was nothing worth complaining about. The album one of the greatest successes of last year, but the bulk of it was not like their breakout single. While “Pumped Up Kicks” brought something fresh and new to the table, most other songs were merely an extension of what was already hip and current with emphasis on emotion. And that’s what the bulk of the band’s set contained: songs like “Life On The Nickel” and “I Would Do Anything For You,” though beat-driven, weren’t comparable to the song’s signature success, which was inevitably saved for the final encore.
This isn’t to say that any of this buildup detracted from the band’s finale. It was wonderful to hear the electric “Houdini” and “Pumped Up Kicks” finally, after much anticipation, but it might have been smarter to throw in something more powerful at the beginning of their set in order to prevent fans from getting exhausted in the packed Congress Theater for a long while during some of the more emotionally centered songs.
Ultimately, though, the band’s live performance ability blew out the imaginative recording by a great distance.
The energy and wave-riding success was beaming from the front of the room. They’ll be back in town soon, and it’ll be another show worth catching without a doubt.
See exclusive photos of Foster the People at Congress Theatre here.