Following the March release of their sophomore album Supermodel, Foster the People embarked on a huge North American tour, hitting the festival circuit and headlining shows across the country. House of Blues Boston hosted the group along with eclectic opener St. Lucia, whose high energy and cosmic, funky beats set the mood for the night.
St. Lucia, aka Jean-Phillip Grobler, strapped with a lime green electric guitar, channeled a modern synthpop Paul Simon with a touch of ’80s funk. His shimmery dance tunes “Elevate” and “September” hypnotized the swaying and grooving audience, transporting them into a surrealist video game before breaking the trance, shouting, “This is the part where we get physical- Let’s fucking jump!” The ground shook beneath the bobbing heads, watching St. Lucia and his four tour musicians dance in circles on the stage; keyboardist Patricia Beranek even performed a bit of the infamous Flashdance dance. The lively set ended as St. Lucia barrel spun and fell to his knees, arching his back while straining the final chord of “When the Night.” With promises of a great show ahead, St. Lucia thanked the pumped up crowd and walked off.
The high-ceilinged venue remained in a cloak of darkness for about forty minutes, dim light emanating from the wrap-around bar nestled beneath the balconies as the crowd buzzed in anticipation of the headliners. Several false alarm crowd welcomes and chants of “Foster! Foster!” built anticipation until finally Mark Foster and his partners took the stage to roaring applause. Plumes of sweet smelling smoke filled the air as they dove into “Are You What You Want to Be?” The stage was aflame with lights and trippy spiraling visuals, keeping pace with the entrancingly slow build into the catchy and danceable track off their new album. Classically infectious with bittersweet lyrical themes, the song opened the set with a charming mixture of angst and lightheartedness encapsulated in dynamic frontman Mark Foster. The existential questions continued with “Ask Yourself,” also off the new album, a melodic laid back tune with catchy refrain, “is this the life you’ve been waiting for?”
To begin his love affair with the crowd, Foster exclaimed, “What’s up Boston? It’s so great to be back. I love playing here!” His audience went wild at his every hip thrust, coiffe flip and lopsided smile. Electro-lite zips and synths gave way to funky beat of “Life on the Nickel” from their first album, Torches, that was certified Platinum by the RIAA earlier in the week. The technicolor lights flashed over Foster as he bounced and shuffled across the stage to the ’80s disco beat.
The crowd sang along to the familiar chorus of “Waste,” with Foster’s versatile vocals swooping in and out of high- pitched harmonies and almost rap-like melancholy verses. The flashing multicolored lights and kaleidoscopic visuals picked up again for popular hit, “Call It What You Want,” where the room was bathed in a deep red haze and shadowy hands reached up in response to his call for hands in the air The whole place jumped with hands in the air for a stellar guitar solo. “We ’bout to get funky up in here!” Foster called and spun back to the mic for “Pseudologia Fantastica,” taking everyone on a psychedelic journey though the violet ether drowning the room as he stands in a lethargic trance crooning along with the plucking synths and steady drums.
Bathing the stage in a blinding white light cast the band in ghostlike shadows as the quick maracas and pop rock riff of “Coming of Age” erupted the place in dancing and wailing along to the “oohs,” egged on by Foster’s carefully timed hip thrusts and not-so-subtle finger gestures. Switching it up for the next one, Foster sat alone on a stool in the spotlight for an acoustic rendition of commercial hit, “Houdini” showcasing his amazing vocal scope yo-yoing in volume and pitch.
“This is from the Torches era, guys. A B-side. We brought it back and we’re gonna play it for you tonight.” Drumsticks clicked along with a slow jam for the beginning of “Broken Jaw,” featuring electro-reggae beats that build into a chant of “I don’t know” that rises with the drums and transitions directly to the fast tribal drums of “Truth,” slowing it down with smooth transcendent harmonies of Foster’s high voice and a slow piano melody.
Next came commercial hit and well-worn favorite “Pumped Up Kicks,” where they messed around with macarenas and keyboards, allowing the crowd sing the entire song. Almost indulgently unenthusiastic, they all seemed to smirk as they whistled along to the familiar catchy pop melody. The energy picked up tangibly for the danceable, jazzy, electro toe-tapping tune, “Miss You” with melancholy croons contrasting the explosions of guitar screeches and strobe lights. Groove-worthy fan favorite “Helena Beat” closed out the set with a sing-a-long to deafening applause and chants of an encore before they even left the stage.
Hands remained in the air, calling them back for the finale. A black and white vortex appeared on the screens behind the band as the group harmonies echoed off the walls and Foster’s loopy vocals spiraled round and round. Finishing off the night with the glimmering whistle tune “Don’t Stop” had the whole crowd clapping along. The charming juxtapositions of rock and synth, catchy pop and existential soul culminated in the final song of the night, leaving the crowd with sore feet, ringing ears, and stars in their eyes.
Are You What You Want to Be
Life on the Nickel
Call It What You Want
Coming of Age
Goats in Trees
Pumped Up Kicks