Foster the People thrills its fans at Deer Lake Park
At Deer Lake Park on Monday, June 25
Are you a hipster, a prep, or some kind of unholy combination of the two? If so, you were probably shuffling your pumped up kicks at Foster the People on Monday. Still, that’s not to say that all of the show’s attendees were of those denominations. Because Foster the People has catch-all appeal, there was a mixed bag of fans at Burnaby’s Deer Lake Park, from fashionable teens with Technicolor hair to moms and dads with eight-year-olds on their shoulders.
But, without a doubt, the sold-out show was a mecca for the young and trendy, who flocked to the outdoor venue in roving packs, sporting frayed, pastel-hued denim.
Spurred on by the sunshine and summer-festival feeling in the air, the crowd shimmied unabashedly to the soul-infused opening acts Kimbra and Mayer Hawthorne. By the time Foster the People bounded on-stage to the synth currents of “Miss You”, I hadn’t seen so many white people dancing badly since the last time I went to the Waldorf’s Tiki Bar. The impossibly infectious “Helena Beat” got frontman Mark Foster seriously grooving, spazzing out on the keyboards and putting on his best Beach Boys falsetto as the euphoric crowd sang along to every word and “woo-ooh”.
The next few songs continued along the same high-energy, beat-driven route, with bassist Cubbie Fink and drummer Mark Pontius filling out the Los Angeles band’s strongly rhythmic, arena-size sound. A giant-sun set piece encircling a digital screen shone brightly above the trio, sometimes showing close-ups of band members for all the fan-girls’ and -boys’ ogling purposes.
But as each feel-good foot-shuffler breezed by, Foster sounded more and more like Adam Levine with his passionate, yet slightly nasal vocalization. It became obvious that, despite the band’s chops, the non-single tracks off Foster the People’s breakthrough debut, Torches, are nowhere near as exhilarating as the radio hits. In fact, they’re yawningly bland.
Even so, the audience lapped it all up, pogoing and cheering delightedly when someone dressed as a character from the Torches album artwork opened a door in the sun set piece and blew bubbles at the crowd. Watching the bubbles float up into the ether as the band rocked out to the piano-laden “Call It What You Want” and the Dandy Warhols–ish “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)”, I couldn’t help but note a resemblance between the bubbles and the songs: light, pretty, crowd-pleasing, and quickly dissolving.
That is Foster the People’s problem. It’s not the fact that the group is essentially a poor man’s MGMT. It’s more that every one of the band’s songs is composed of one catchy hook looped ad nauseam, and when the hook isn’t even that catchy, like on the overworked Kimbra collabo “Warrior”, the whole affair becomes tiresome and forgettable.
The encore was a testament to this. Before the contagiously melodic but monotonous “Pumped Up Kicks” sent everyone home happy and humming, the band subjected the audience to the cheesy piano ballad “Ruby”, a tedious snooze that was met with many a glazed, far-off gaze of boredom. Where no simple hooks are to be found, Foster the People fans may not follow beyond Torches.
Still, I guess there were worse ways to spend a sunlit evening than chilling out with a lakeside concert. But I probably could have used some more booze, if only to lower my inhibitions enough so I could join in with all the shameless bad dancing.