Foster the People’s buoyant pop sound is addictive, to tweens, teens, and Millennials alike. Apparently, even senior citizens love them.
The band’s sound is one that shines best in a small, intimate venue. Considering they have an album that is manageable from start to finish without getting annoying, their Outside Lands show a couple of months back was disappointing.
Not so at the Fillmore last night.
Foster the People evinces emo undertones without the cheese factor that plagues so many other indie rock bands, an advantage that makes them appealing rather than irritating.
The show erupted with “Houdini” followed by “Miss You,” which captured the crowd with its crescendo into a simple staccato bounce. The sold-out house roared, loving it, and the tambourine added fun. The band exuded a fresh-faced boys next-door approach sporting blue jeans, white t-shirts, and patterned button down shirts, more classic Gap than Mission hipster. Mark Foster, the lead singer, is definitely a boy I could bring home to mum. Hell, I would bring all of these boys home to mum.
During the catchy “Call It What You Want,” I noticed a grandma. In her black t-shirt pulled over a red turtleneck sweater, she bounced, raised her hands, whooped, and clapped along with everyone else, while others one-third of her age rested on the sidelines. She checked her watch (not her iPhone) and I wondered, is she with her son? Her grandson?
Foster’s range is pretty amazing. He effortlessly switched from falsetto to a sexy, slightly nasal, non-Southern twang, and finally to a deep bellow, most impressively showcased on “Life on the Nickel” and “Don’t Stop Talking to Me.”
The band displayed a sweet goodness on songs like “I Would Do Anything For You,” an innocence revealed further when Mark Foster exclaimed, “I’ve wanted to play a show at the Fillmore for, like, eight years. This place is incredible, I’m just taking it all in.”
At times, Foster the People was expressive and dramatic, and then would launch into high-powered jams. At one point during “Warrant,” the drums were borderline tribal, and the multitude slurped up their energy. “Waste” was another crowd favorite, maybe because the lyrics are so fitting for San Franciscans (because every day that you want to waste, you can, or wake up, you can, or change, you can).
“It’s good to be back in San Francisco, that’s for sure…seriously.” Foster murmured.
The set concluded with “Helena Beat,” the catchy “Torches” album opener that got the crowd bopping along. They attempted to emanate a softer side during the encore by slowing it down with a boring piano solo (so dull that I can’t remember what song it was, except that it’s not on the album).
Foster the People ended with the highly anticipated hit single “Pumped Up Kicks.” The masses exploded as the chorus progressed into a deep dub step rendition of the familiar tune. The darting white lights mixed with rainbow beams turned the Fillmore into a techno dance party. Not a bad way to finish off. With how many times these guys must play this song, they’re getting creative in their execution. Well, they have to be at this point, as the popularity of “Pumped Up Kicks” is not going away any time soon. Well-done boys.
Photography courtesy of Misha