Review: Glowsticks and Foster the People

By Joko Magalong

Posted at Oct 07 2012 02:09 PM | Updated as of Oct 08 2012 06:59 PM

At the Foster the People concert. Photo by Dia Fulgueras

Someone sent me a link to a Solana Beach performance of this band more than a year ago, and it was love at the first beat.

There was something different about this band Foster the People. I couldn’t really pinpoint if it was the way Mark Foster did his vocals (which at the time reminded me of MGMT), or the electro hooks that made you just want to dance, or maybe it was the catchy lyrics?

I found myself having all the known remixes of the songs in their self-titled EP, and I was counting the days before the release of "Torches," their first full-length studio album. I was a fan. And it wasn’t long before the rest of the country, and the world followed suit.

Foster the People is a trio based from Los Angeles, California founded in 2009 by Mark Foster (lead vocals) with Mark Pontius (drums) and Cubbie Fink (bass). Their album "Torches" debuted at No. 8 in the Billboard 200 chart, and since then they have been nominated in various awards from the Grammys to the MTV Video Music Awards.

Last Saturday, Foster the People performed at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, and I kid you not, it was just a spinning mass of awesomeness from start to end.

During the first song, Foster somehow managed to topple over his keyboard and fell flat on the floor. Hearing and singing along to the band play all the songs in their debut album—like “Call It What You Want”, “Waste,” “Warrant,” “I Would Do Anything for You” and “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)” was a dream come true to us fans.

During the song “Houdini,” Foster jokingly narrated that according to a Maroon 5 band member the Filipinos always sang along in perfect pitch. And we, of course obliged by giving him a rousing perfectly pitched rendition of the “oooh” parts of my favorite song.

Foster the People also included some songs that were not in their album such as the marching ditty, "Love" and the slow ballad "Ruby." And there was no better song to end their first Philippine show than "Pumped Up Kicks," the song that started their success.

The last encore was a marvelous extended dance party extravaganza complete with blow-up creatures from the "Torches" cover—just amazing!


Each song was a musical chairs type of affair with two other live musicians (Isom Innis and Sean Cimino) joining the trio on stage. One had the impression of a well-orchestrated ballet — make that a well-orchestrated wild celebratory dance -- at every song with each musician playing multiple instruments all throughout the show.

It also surprised me at how they changed the performance of some of the songs with some getting the heavy electric guitar treatment, and some highlighting percussion.

The show wasn’t full of the usual bells and whistles—no smoke machines, no fancy backdrops and sets, and none of those big projection screens that let you see the band’s face. (But then I’m sure that a large number of people in the audience (read:girls) would have wanted close-up shots of the band.

Although there were a lot of shouts “I love you Mark Foster!” during the concert, it was really about the music.

At one point in “Helena Beat,” I looked to my right and I saw a girl jumping on her seat. To my left, my friend mouthed, “Goosebumps” at me, and when I looked down, I saw a mass of people with pumping fists -- gyrating, moving, and rocking out in all their glowstick-ed glory.

Kudos to the band for such a masterful way of handling the teeming mass of youth that comprised most of the audience with intros that kept us guessing which song would be next, to using seemingly random but very effective epileptic dancing (which we still found cute), to even a well-placed bob of the head, Foster the People gave Filipinos one of the best performances that I have seen in the year.

Thanking the audience for a memorable night, and looking happily overwhelmed with the love from the crowd (and as per their Twitter, the fact that they were playing in the same place that Ali fought Frasier), Foster said, "You guys got history. You guys have passion. You guys have Pacquiao. It’s not going to take us very long to go back here."

We're waiting with bated breath ‘til our next hit of Foster the People.