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November 16, 2023

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Media Reviews: Foster the People concert

Grade: A

While some parents encourage their children to pursue a path in life that includes a safe job with a stable income, a Cleveland boy named Mark Foster was given a Beach Boys cassette by his father that would lead him on an unusual career path.

The boy grew older, followed his father’s advice, and moved out to California to pursue his passion for music, first sparked by that Beach Boys cassette. After meeting bassist and backing vocalist Cubbie Fink and drummer Mark Pontius, Foster formed the Billboard Music Award-winning band, Foster the People.

The band headed back to Foster’s midwestern roots by performing at the Fillmore in Detroit, Mich. on May 15, 2014.

The night kicked off with South African-born musician Jean-Philip Grobler, better known by his stage name St. Lucia. He was joined on stage by four of his friends to make up a group whose chemistry was brilliant.

St. Lucia was the perfect choice to support Foster the People on this tour. They got the crowd warmed up by having them dance along to their songs performing uniquely influenced tunes from all of Grobler’s travels. St. Lucia left me wanting more and I’ve been streaming them on Spotify since leaving the show.

Foster the People’s set began with their hit song “Helena Beat” which got the crowd up and jumping with the first beat of the drums.

The stage setup featured five strips of wave lights featuring a kaleidoscope of colors synchronized to the rhythm of the tunes filling the packed theater. This was especially prominent during their performance of “Coming of Age.”

Lights flashed with the drum beats while the crowd sang and danced along to the song. The trio was joined by three touring members to give Foster the People a highly dynamic sound which made the songs really come to life.

Additionally, their energy and powerful sound made a bold statement when they performed their chart-topping song “Pumped Up Kicks.” This song has stirred up a lot of conversation because of its upbeat instrumentals that are paired with dark lyrics discussing the life of a troubled teen.

In an interview with The World Famous KROQ, Mark Foster stated, “I kind of wrote the song to bring awareness to the issue. That sort of thing keeps happening more and more in our country—it’s kind of turning into an epidemic. To me the epidemic isn’t gun violence; the epidemic is lack of family, lack of love, and isolation—kids who don’t have anywhere to go or anyone to talk to and that’s what makes them snap.”

It’s great to see musicians bring attention to important topics and spark conversations on how change needs to be made.

The lighting during this song was some of the most vibrant and colorful of the night. That, paired with Foster’s impressive vocals, added a whole other level to the compelling statement of “Pumped Up Kicks.”

Another highlight of the show was when the band preformed “Goats In Trees.” The lights dimmed for this slower tune, making the venue filled with a couple thousand people feel very intimate—a hard feat for any musical performer to pull off with a large crowd. The instrumentals in this song gave off a haunting vibe that gave me goosebumps.

The show’s energy was kept alive throughout the night by transitioning from one song to the next with a little banter in between. However, when coming back for their encore, Foster talked about his love of Detroit.

He shared how he had previously came to the city to do some recording and how how he felt a connection with the city with being raised in nearby Cleveland. He said he disagrees with people that feel Detroit is a broken city. Instead, he sees a city that is going through a “rebirth.”

“It’s the people of the city that makes a city, not the buildings around it,” Foster said. “Just like a flower can split a slab of concrete five inches thick, that’s what I see… you guys have the indomitable spirit Detroit.”

It was great to see an artist care this much about the people of the city they were performing in. After Foster’s speech, the night came to a close when the band performed “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls).”

If you ever get the opportunity to experience Foster the People live, don’t miss the chance. Raquel Martinez and Harmony Nguyen travelled from Grand Rapids, Mich. and waited in the frigid cold for five hours to ensure that they got to experience the show from the front row.

“Amazing. One of the best shows I have ever seen,” Martinez said. “I almost lost my voice.”

Nguyen said it was “fantastic” and that at one point in the show Foster had grabbed her hand. She felt a connection with him that made her feel very appreciated for singing along with their songs.

The next time you feel that your goals are out of reach, just remember that an Ohio boy attained his dream by following his passion and taking a chance.

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