Day 202: Foster the People – Torches

18 Sep

Pumped Up Kicks

Live shows are extremely important for small bands.  If an up and coming group can’t hold its own live, then it won’t last another month.  Conversely, if a band with bad studio material puts on a fun show, they may be able to find some success (see Best Coast).  But once a band gets past a certain level of notoriety, all of that goes out the window.  Foster the People have gotten so big, so quickly, that the fairly boring concert that I saw them put on at Lollapalooza has done nothing to deter their rise to the indie top.

All I had heard of Foster the People before I saw them at Lolla was their massive single, Pumped Up Kicks.  I thought the song was good enough, but not nearly as innovative as everyone else seemed to think.  There’s no denying that it’s catchy, though, so I decided to give their live show a try.  What happened next is why, no matter how good an LP Torches may or may not be, I will never be a fan of Foster the People.

Their midday set on a side stage was one of the most lackluster performances I have ever seen.  The guys just seemed bored up there, and quite possibly extremely hung over.  Listening to Torches brought me straight back to that moment.  I just can’t find anything good about this generic indie pop, as all I can think about is that terribly unenthusiastic show, and how annoying it was to be sweating profusely and dying of dehydration, all to see a band that obviously didn’t care about me.

Foster the People don’t need to care about me anymore.  That show was absolutely packed.  They’ve established a fan base, and for the time being there will always be a million other people who want to see them play.  Good for them, I guess.


5 Responses to “Day 202: Foster the People – Torches”

  1. B. Frank September 18, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    Let me commend to you the XM acoustic version of the same tune. Far superior.

  2. Yuanny Dollar September 19, 2011 at 4:23 am #

    I saw them live and I agree that they can’t pull it off. However, I didn’t get the impression that they were hungover. To me, they just came off as shy. People who want to be rock stars can’t be reserved. Everyone doesn’t have to be Mick Jagger, but if you want to stand in one spot and sing with your eyes closed, you should choose a different career.

    • David Chops September 19, 2011 at 6:35 am #

      Being a good artist in the studio and good on stage are different skill sets. Many, if not most, of the greats can pull off both but certainly not everyone. There are plenty of bands out there about whom it has been frequently said that their recordings never captured the energy of their live performances. Conversely, there have been some great recording artists who were not very exciting performers live – Steely Dan immediately jumps to mind. The problem noted with Foster the People is common among bands that sell a ton of units before they have put in their time (the band was only formed in 2009).

      I say the record is pretty good, Pumped Up Kicks better than pretty good and give them time. They may learn to work a stage yet. Or not.

      I really liked The Kooks cover of Pumped Up Kicks. Well worth a listen:

  3. Uncle Jiggly September 19, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    When you hear the lyrics of “Pumped Up Kicks” coming out of the mouth of your five year old it gives the song a whole new perspective.

  4. Yuanny Dollar September 19, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    I’m not sure what the Kooks bring to it that wasn’t already there. The issue with FTP is that, on an even more obscure stage deep in the bowels of Lollapalooza, Electric Touch was putting on the best half hour show of the weekend. Their front man kills (I’m sure there’s some footage on the YouTubes). He covered Blitzkrieg Bop, which later made another appearance during Girl Talk’s DJ set, proving that you can’t keep a classic down. On a giant stage, Bright Eyes was putting on a great show even though Oberst appears to have a fairly introverted personality. He’s found a way to make it work and be an extroverted introvert spinning around with his head down on stage. I don’t know if FTP will get there, but until they do, they’re going to have huge crowds yawning until they play their singaglong radio song. I hate shows like that.

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