Sometimes when you first hear a band, initially you just know they will make it big. And other times, you may listen to them a dozen times before the music really sticks to you. The sounds of Los Angeles based cultural zeitgeist Foster the People (FTP) can probably be both, depending on who is listening. If you haven’t yet heard them or of them, then it won’t be long. There hasn’t been this much buzz about a new indie group since Vampire Weekend or MGMT. The electro-rock band has been surfing the viral wave of it’s first successful single, “Pumped Up Kicks”, for several months now. They have been playing sold out shows across the United States in support of their new top 10 record, Torches, which is also their first.
These young artists no longer have to strive for success, they could just as easily coast on their laurels. Already endorsed by MTV, with stops at both Coachella and Lollapalooza this year and over 33,000 copies of Torchessold in the first week alone, FTP doesn’t have anything left to prove. So how did indie music’s current darlings choose to approach their first headlining tour? They go above and beyond, exceeding the expectations of both fans and critics alike. Just what do I mean? Well, they were already scheduled for a sold out show when I saw them. They ended up doing 3 other appearances, for a total of 4 for the day. I was lucky enough to be able to also see them at an exclusive in store acoustic set beforehand.
Anyone showing up and willing to buy a cd or a copy of the vinyl of the band was given a wristband to attend the exclusive, unplugged set. About 100 or so fans lined up outside and waited 2 hours in the blistering heat before being allowed in. Mainly held as a second chance to see the band for those not lucky enough to attend the sold out concert later that evening, the acoustic short set proved satisfying. FTP played about 5 songs in about half an hour, including an amazing cover of “Heart of Gold” by Neil Young. Afterwards they were gracious enough to talk with fans briefly as they signed cds and records.
The concert itself was scheduled later that night. Sold out for months in advance, the show would begin with opening band Gardens and Villa. The 5 piece hails from Santa Barbara, and are currently promoting the release of their first record this week, July 5th. The self-titled debut is not quite as highly anticipated as Torches was, but these are two different bands Gardens and Villa share some of the same sounds and influences as FTP, yet have a more folk vibe. I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially with a bad that has a reputation for playing a flute. They played a surprisingly great set that lasted about 30 minutes, choosing to close by covering “Cars” by Gary Neuman. I couldn’t find anyone that knew anything about them, either before or after the show. I only discovered them before the show when looking them up online briefly. This is going to change, and change quickly–this is without doubt one of the best new bands I have come across lately. I am basing that on the reaction of the crowd, not just my own hunch. I don’t think FTP could have picked a better band to open for them.
The Foster trio, who also tour with 2 other members, are a self described more electronic version of Blur. They gave the 500 or so in attendance an electrifying and exhilarating performance. They did not just live up to the hype, they far surpassed it! The energy they brought was absolutely overwhelming and contagious. The infectious and melodic sounds filled the packed room of optimistic party goers, providing a live play list to celebrate the holiday. Maybe what helps to set this band apart is the chemistry and team work. Every member contributed to background vocals, and everyone besides the drummer had a keyboard at their disposal. The audience was what every musician dreams about, they were singing and dancing along to nearly every song. This has to be, at least partially, due to the passion and authenticity these guys display. Watching lead singer Mark Foster dance and move his shoulders and seeing the personality and originality of this band had a mesmerizing effect–FTP could do no wrong. FTP will finish this tour, only to start another one and are scheduled to play throughout the fall. I predict more sellout crowds and stellar shows, try and be part of it if you can.