Arts concert review

Nearly perfect

Foster the People returns to Boston with fun, new show

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California indie pop band Foster The People performed at House of Blues last Friday
Courtesy of Foster The People

Foster the People

House of Blues

May 9, 2014

One of the benefits of attending a concert by a new-ish band is that you get to hear their whole repertoire. For Foster the People, this included songs from their second album Supermodel, their first album Torches, B-sides from both albums, and everything in between.

Of course, the band also took time to experiment with a number of their songs in their live Boston performance. On “Call It What You Want,” guitarist Cubbie Fink overtook the original piano instrumental solo together, making it sound edgier. But the highlight of the night was the acoustic cover of “Houdini.” While the original version of the song covers the dark, escapist message with pop beats, the acoustic version was a soulful plea “to disappear.”

The live show helped highlight the versatility of Foster the People, as their songs exhibited a wide range of genres over the course of the night, going from pop to rock and even bringing in a bit of the fierceness of rap in “Broken Jaw.” The diversity of styles kept the show from being very exciting or danceable. But singer Mark Foster chose songs that built in intensity throughout the set, culminating in a exhilarating rendition of “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls).”

Perhaps their experimentation was encouraged by a new approach to their music. While Torches featured electronically influenced music, Supermodel features a more natural sound that focuses on the guitar and is a more “analog” record. Though many of Supermodel’s songs are about the perils of capitalism and other social issues, the lyrics are obscured by pseudo-cheerful instrumentation that it shares with Torches.

There were a few missteps throughout the night. Foster told the crowd that Boston was filled with “salt of the earth people” before launching into the tonally discordant “Pumped Up Kicks”, a song about a school shooting. The stage included lights that temporarily blinded members of the audience with seizure-inducing patterns that clashed with the occasionally mellow music.

But throughout the show, the audience members sang along to every song, and even danced as the set built in intensity. At the end of the night, even my voice was sore from singing along. Foster the People certainly isn’t a small “indie” band any more, but they still know how to put on a good show.