Riff Review: Foster The People’s Intimate Toronto Gig


Ahead of a tour that’ll see Foster The People play rooms and fields designed to hold thousands of concertgoers, the band foster_the_people-1-smallmade a special visit on Friday night to one of Toronto’s most historic and prolific small clubs, the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern.

Three days removed from the release of their intriguing sophomore album, Supermodel, there was a palpable level excitement that filled the couple-hundred-person-fitting venue. After an admirable, enjoyable opening set by local act The Box Tiger, Foster The People took the stage just before 11pm for a set that featured a delicate, yet well-organized balance between the ever-danceable 2011 Torches album, and their new, much more eclectic offering.

Going with what the crowd knew right away, FTP bounced into the mid-tempo jam “Life on the Nickel,” prompting the packed room to shimmy and whip out whichever smartphones were pocketed. “Miss You,” a quieter track that builds toward many sonic explosions, was knocked out of the park on the band’s second swing.

Call it the over-familiarity people like yours truly have with Torches versus Supermodel, but one real evident pick up from this night was the significant difference in vibe between the songs from each. That said, there aren’t any complaints to be filed. If anything, it helped FTP put forth a more-rounded performance.

Most notably, new tracks “Pseudologia Fantastica” and “Best Friend” added a whole new dimension to the night. The former has this psychedelic groove and eeriness that would probably receive thumbs up from The Flaming Lips and MGMT, while the latter is inexcusably a disco track at the surface, with a perfect dose of alt-rock defiance built within.

Surprisingly, it was Supermodel’s lead single “Coming of Age” – which followed an inspired version of “Waste” (see video below) – that caused the band some difficulty. While we generally recognize Foster The People as a trio, their photographed membership was more than doubled this night – yet according to frontman Mark Foster – missing a pivotal player due to illness. This hampered the pushing out of the single, leading to the band starting and stopping it twice, before pulling the string and really letting it fly.

When “Pumped Up Kicks” finally made it into the night, it became quickly evident who purchased the $27 ticket to just hear that song, and spill beer upon the Riffyou.com crew. That drunkert’s sloppiness aside, this song will seemingly never lose its magic or ability to remind the band of the power that the right single, at the right time, can have.

Ending off the main set was a room-shaking, raucous rendition of “Helena Beat,” followed by a one-stop encore featuring “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls),” which apart from making you want to buy a Nissan, is perhaps the group’s most enthusiastically fun track.

As the crowd bumbled through the darkness towards the exit, Foster The People opted not to hide in their ride or whichever backstage space was allotted to them. Instead, as if they were not a Grammy-nominated band that headlines massive festivals and sells a bunch of albums, they went to their merch table.

Without any chaos; without a hulking security team dishing out unnecessary rules and restrictions, the band took photos, signed autographs, and chatted with their appreciators. In an era where bands half the size of Foster The People would immediately abandon ship after the final note and seek refuge elsewhere, it was truly a beautiful thing to witness this type of a commitment to a fan base.

Good on you gentlemen!

­-Adam Grant

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