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Live Review: Foster The People @ Enmore Theatre – 05.01.18

Summertime is festival time for just about every music lover in Australia. Between Falls, Beyond the Valley, FOMO and Field Day, you’d be spewing to not be able to make it to a festival set of one of your favourite bands. Unfortunately, that exact situation struck this particular writer, as he relocated over the New Year’s period from Brisbane to Sydney, but then opportunity presented itself in the form of Foster The People’s Enmore sideshow.

The Calfornia-based popsters are fresh off of the back of their east coast Falls Festival slots around the country, and were stopping in at the Enmore to bring the house down with their eclectic blend of sounds. Frontman, main songwriter and name-lender Mark Foster took to the stage dressed halfway between Norman Reedus and a sequin factory, but the people weren’t here for the fashions, it was the music that filled the room out.

Foster The People dropped their third album, ‘Sacred Hearts Club’ earlier this year, and it had taken quite a turn from the band’s previous two releases, with more of a bombastic, beat-heavy sound. It quickly became clear that the album was optimised for the live stage, with the heavy-hitting drums and electronic bass lines of tracks like Loyal Like Sid & Nancy and Pay The Man booming through the room to create a dense sonic atmosphere.

Nothing gets us as excited as duelling drum work, especially when it’s as as busy and groove-laden as the percussion of Foster The People’s work. In the fresher material, such as Doing It For The Money and SHC, the already huge beats are accentuated by crisp back beats, latin-feeling jam blocks and 808s that would send 2008 Kanye shopping for a fresh pair of pants.

As tunetastic as the new material is, Foster’s best work comes in the form of the refined and practiced tracks from their first two albums, ‘Torches’ and ‘Supermodels’. The tracks from the latter didn’t get as much of a spin as some fans might have hoped, with the marked exclusion of Best Friend, however the reworking of Are You What You Want To Be into an aforementioned percussive groover and sing-a-long stylings of Coming Of Age more than made up the gap. The band onstage dropped an attacking cover of Blitzkrieg Bop by origi-punks The Ramones, and ever-so shortly the normally dancey crowd turned quickly to a mosh pit.

Whenever the sound waves of a track from ‘Torches’ met our ear drums, they were closely followed by the eruption of the crowd who knew the album stood the test of time. Houdini, Don’t Stop (Color On The Walls), Waste and Life On the Nickel all got a spin early on in the show, each one was met with rapturous welcome.

After a quick shirt deposit, Foster cut up the stage with the presence of someone who is used to the larger stages that Festivals offer. Bounding around left and right, shuffling back and forth and leading his band with a practiced poise was all part of his performance throughout the night, however, things only built towards the end. At one point, Foster was directing his fellow band members through their duelling solos like a crazed conductor, waving his arms to lift and quieten various instruments. At other times, his Berry-esque guitar strutting felt cut short by the wings of the Enmore as he covered every inch of the stage.

In the back end of the show, the crescendo of the nearly unpausing set neared its peak with tracks like the guitar-heavy Lotus Eater and ‘Torches’ classics Helena Beat and Call It What You Want. A short monologue found Foster asking crowds to come together and listen to each other to bridge across what divides us, before the band launched into Sit Next To Me.

The complete peak of the concert came in the encore, as the band reemerged to the sounds of remixed vocal samples and bouncy percussion. The eclectic mix broke down into the iconic opening riff of the band’s biggest hit, Pumped Up Kicks. If the earlier crowd reactions were explosions, then this one was downright supernova as punters seemed to superheroically leap onto mates’ shoulders, and dance circles sprang out of nowhere. Even in the balcony seating, fans leapt up to dance their way to the end of the show.

See the full gallery from the night HERE.

Written by Max Higgins

Photos by Emily Mathison