I was utterly puzzled the first time I listened to Foster The Peopleâ€™s â€˜Pumped Up Kicks.â€™ The beat lead me to believe it was an up-beat dance single. The lyrics however had a much darker undertone. Do I dance? Do I cry? How can a song about adolescent gun violence be so damn catchy? More importantly, was I allowed to think it was catchy?
That intricate juxtaposition is everything Foster The People is about. It is hard nowadays to find a pop song that invokes so many thoughts and questions, but â€˜Pumped Up Kicksâ€™ as well as many of the other tracks on their debut album Torches do just that. Fosterâ€™s voice is unique, and his range is incredible. The falsetto comes from being classically trained. His dance moves come from sheer awesome. The lyrics, his voice, and the insane melodies behind him make for an unforgettable listening experience.
Foster The Peopleâ€™s sound is infectious. Once I heard one track, I was hungry for more. I devoured their self titled EP and eagerly awaited the release of Torches. I ignored every leak or postings of songs that were not on the EP. I wanted to be introduced to this album properly. When a hard copy was finally in my possession, I sat down, ready to fully immerse myself.
I had seen the live stream from their Coachella set. I had noticed that they had been selling out venues all along their tour, even before the release of their album. I was curious as to how they had done that. The EP was great, but there must be more. What was I missing? Torches answered this for me. It was so blatantly obvious. Last summer, I dubbed Sleigh Bellsâ€™ debut Treats the most versatile album of the year. In 2011, Foster The People has been awarded this title. Of course these shows were sold out, who wouldnâ€™t want to see these young men live?
I was lucky enough to attend their sold out show in Denver at the Bluebird Theatre, one of my favourite venues. Before the show, I did a phone interview with Mark Foster, lead singer of the band. He seemed so nice and down to earth. He was so genuine. I was not expecting that with the front man of a band whoâ€™s success has been a rapid climb, with no decline in sight. However, when I asked him about the sudden popularity, he seemed very uncomfortable with it: that only made me love him, and the band, even more.
I was palpitating with excitement as I stood in front of the stage, waiting for Foster The People to come on. They opened with â€˜Warrantâ€™ one of my favourite songs off the album. I was so excited and entranced, I almost forgot I was supposed to take pictures of the show. I tried my hardest to snap photographs and dance at the same time. It is impossible to stand still while Foster The People is playing, they completely took me over. It wasnâ€™t just me though. The crowd, filled with people of all ages, went absolutely nuts. I havenâ€™t seen a response like that since I saw Yeasayer over a year ago.
In between every song, the band members took a moment to play Chinese fire drill, running around the stage to switch instruments. I was blown away by the amount of pure talent in front of me. Not only could Mark Foster sing, but he played guitar, drums, and keyboard as well. And that went for every member on stage. It seemed like there was nothing these men could not do.
â€˜I want to curl up and live inside of this performance forever!â€™ I yelled to my friend who came with me. She nodded vigorously in agreement and continued to dance and sing along. My only complaint is that the set was entirely too short, I could have watched them play for hours.
When the set was over, I was speechless. To be honest, I am surprised that I am able to find words to write this review right now almost two days later. I was so impressed with Foster The People, their success is well deserved, and I predict that they have a long road ahead of them.
The only other thing that has surprised and impressed me with the same magnitude as Foster The People did, invoking questions and creativity and speechlessness in me immediately, is Garden State. Yes, the movie written, directed (and starred) by Zach Braff.
Which is funny because Mark Foster bears an uncanny resemblance to Braff.