Still Pumped Up: Foster The People

This past Sunday may have been the best concert of my life–and I’ve been to more than my fair share of shows, probably about the equivalent of how many 5 people my age have been to.

Let’s start with the first opening act, the band Reptar. I had never heard of them previous to attending Sunday’s show, but now I’m hooked. The group consists of 4 male members who hail from Athens, Georgia, and really could be the next Passion Pit. Reptar just released their debut EP in August, titled “Oblangle Fizz Y’all”, a perfect, appropriately strange title for this group. Their music sounds like a mashup of 80’s, thrash metal, tribal drums, techno, psychedelic indie…everything. It’s pretty cool how they can throw together so many “noises” and come out with some seriously great music anyone can jam out to.

Photo Credit: Steve Leibrand ; Columbus Wired

Not only is their music great, but the band puts on a great, upbeat live show–the guys looked to be having just as much fun together on stage as the dancing, sold-out crowd in Lifestyles Community Pavilion. When they left the stage, I witnessed every person around me (myself included) turning to other members in the crowd and in awe, talking about how great those guys were. Seriously, give them a listen through their official site here (bet you find yourself having a hard time not moving to the beat).

After Reptar, the bit-more popular band Cults took the stage. I’m sad to report, I was very disappointed in the near hour they were on stage. First, I was creeped the heck out-the band plays in front of a projection screen showing a looping black-and-white film of children playing near streams and around what looked to be farms in the early part of the 1900’s–creepy. Also, due to the projection on the backdrop,   the band plays in complete darkness with no stage lights (so the audience can see the creepy kids). Maybe the effect was just lost on me, but I found not being able to actually see the band even from my front row seat to be incredibly annoying.

The atmosphere and music the band created reminded me of themed Halloween bands, dressed as ghouls and vampires, playing Halloween music–I really expected them to start playing something along the lines of the Monster Mash. My music-buff friend asked me how I liked the band, and when I told her I didn’t like them at all, her reply was “What?! The Cults are fantastic!” (a signature word in her dialect). Her high opinion of the band influenced me to look up some of their songs online after the show, wanting to see what, if anything, I was missing out on. Their actual recorded music isn’t that bad surprisingly, you can decide what you think of the band yourself on their site here.

I think the reason I didn’t like them live is because their music is much slower paced than the music of Reptar and Foster the people,

Photo Credit: Steve Leibrand ; Columbus Wired

which made the time they were on stage comparable a deep, barren, low lying valley in between two massive, majestic, thrilling mountain peaks. The crowd seemed to be a little uneasy, too, trying to roll over all of the hype and energy Reptar created through The Cults set and on to the main event.

And the main event: Foster the People. When writing about this band, I find my fingers wanting to just go wild on the keyboard, with a bunch of “OMG OMG OMG, LOVE LOVE LOVE, sldkfjalsdfjdl”…yeah, they were THAT amazing! (Excuse my possible excessive use of caps and exclamation points from this point on, please.)

People may not thing that a band who uses so many special digital effects in their music would be great live, but they are honestly the single best band I have ever been lucky enough to take in one of their shows.

After a long, drawn out break following when Cults rapped up, the house lights went out and screaming began. The stage was dark, and a single long-held note was being played on the speakers. Then, a spotlight shined and wild beating of drums started. Lead singer, Mark Foster, then strolled out, paced the front of the stage back and forth, playing a cowbell to the beat. He stopped in the middle, and in perfect synchronization with the music being played around him and flashing lights, began jumping up and down as the beat kicked in to the first song, Houdini. From that second on, the LC turned into one huge dance party (my calves hurt for 2 days following the show from all the jumping and rocking around).

Next on the set list was Miss You. During this song I really was able to notice and take in the pure vocal talent that is Mark Foster. Their album, Torches, has so many nifty effects added to the tracks that one may wonder how great of a singer he really is, but the man can belt out a tune!

The band then played Life On The Nickel, followed by I Would Do Anything For You, one of the band’s slower numbers but still jam packed with energy. Coming down from the initial thrill of the band’s excellence, one can notice and appreciate the level talent in the trio. In addition to Mark Foster, Foster the People also is made up of Mark Pontius and Cubbie Fink. Besides serving as the lead vocalist, Mark Foster can wow on the keyboard, piano, guitar, and other random percussions (he also is head of the synthesizers and programming that accompanies their music). Mark Pontius plays on the drums and other percussions, and Cubbie Fink is responsible for the bass and backup vocals. I wonder how many instruments combined these three can play, because watching them switch from instrument to instrument with just as much talent on one as the next was totally impressive.

Another interesting thing people attending a Foster The People show will be able to realize is their eclectic fan base. Their song’s are ones you can get wild and dance around to, or just listen to while lounging around, so it’s only appropriate that the fans represent people with all kinds of characteristics as well. There were people of ALL types there to take in the show, from preteens to people in their upper 50’s, college kids, older married couples–Foster The People shows are guaranteed entertainment for any type of person.

The time in between verses or songs was often turned into a chance for the band to show their skill on various instruments in fun bursts, the members of FTP breaking it down and conducting 1 or 2 minute long jam sessions.  At a Foster The People show, one may feel like in addition to hearing great live music, they bought a ticket to a laser/light show.  Every song was played to perfect beat-corresponding bright, flashing, colored lights which induced the off the charts energy level and party-like atmosphere to remain at the top.

Mark Foster must exhaust himself halfway throughout the show from giving it his absolute 100%, so he took to a seat to play the piano and sing during Waste. His rest break was brief, because right after Waste ended, he was up and rocking out on the keyboard for Call It What You Want. Following that, he was up playing the guitar and bouncing across the stage to Don’t Stop (Color On The Walls). Oh also–yeah, they even do the whistling that accompanies some the songs live, it isn’t some part of a live background track playing.

Foster also took a brief break to talk about how good it was to be back in his home state, and to promote their charity effort through the Do Good Bus. The Do Good Bus travels with Foster The People to every city on their 22-stop North American tour, and fills the 30 seats with locals who then volunteer for a few hours prior to the show with a surprise local organization/cause. For the stop in Columbus, Foster explained that the Do Gooders helped a local organization, Local Matters, who plant community urban gardens.  The volunteers worked for 3 hours, accomplishing work that the woman said would normally have taken her 3 weeks to accomplish on her own. (You can learn more and find out ways you can help through Local Matters at their website,, and the Do Good Bus at Mark Foster urged the audience to realize how fortunate everyone was to be enjoying a concert, and to give back to their communities in any way they can. Stand out performer, stand out guy.

The band played every song off their debut album, Torches, but saved their most popular song and the one most people know them for, Pumped Up Kicks, for last. The song normally is only 4 minutes long, but the band turned it into a huge 8+ minute production. Warm up band Reptar even joined the fun onstage, which turned into a complete free-for-all, members of both bands running around playing various instruments, standing on top of speakers and drums playing random percussions like cowbells, triangles, and even maracas.

As if one would need more proof to the overall awesomeness of this band than their music and charity work, I got to meet the members of Foster The People as well as Reptar after the show. Members from both bands were just as gratuitous towards fans for coming to the show as those who went were towards them for the spectacular display they put on. They signed ticket stubs and shoes, posed for pictures with fans, and talked about how much they genuinely appreciated fan’s appreciation for the music. Foster The People were as friendly and laid back as any normal person, like they do not know how ridiculously amazing they are and how great what they are contributing to the music world is.

If you ever have the opportunity to take in a Foster The People show, I HIGHLY ENCOURAGE you to do so! It should be a mandatory show requirement for any lover of music, of any age.


-Chelsea Browne

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