Tuesday, 20 May 2014

St. Lucia and Foster the People @ Massey Hall, Toronto, 13/05/2014 - Concert Review

Nothing beats that feeling of anticipation as the lights in the venue slowly fade to black. As soon as those lights cut out, people of all ages start to gradually lift themselves out of their seats, heart beats fluttering faster, eyes shining with excitement, and cheers start to commence from all sides of the room. Every person in that venue knows exactly what is coming: the main attraction, the reason why everyone is there. On Tuesday night, that main attraction was Foster the People. The indie rockers played to a packed show in the perfectly vintage, beautiful Massey Hall, right in the heart of Toronto.

Opening for the vastly successful FTP was a less well-known band known as St. Lucia. I always feel a twinge of sympathy for the opening band: they know that very few people are actually there to see them on their own, and that most people regard the opening band as one more obstacle between them and their idols. However, St. Lucia held their own under the great shadow of FTP, ensuring that they would not be forgotten as soon as Foster the People stepped out onto the stage. Bright and enthusiastic, the group tried to get each and every member of the crowd to also feel all the energy that was simply radiating off of the band: one could really tell that St. Lucia loves playing music. Each member seemed to throw in every bit of energy they had into every note they played. Unfortunately for St. Lucia, the crowd seemed to have a hard time getting into their poppy, fun sound as the singer asked on several occasions, "does Toronto have a law against standing up at a concert?". 

St. Lucia served its purpose beautifully as an opening band: they whet the appetite of the crowd by playing their biggest, most fun hits such as "Closer Than This" and "Elevate", and got the audience amped up for the headlining band.

Now came the moment that I mentioned at the beginning of the review: the lights cut out, putting a quick end to brief snippets of small talk and texting. The time had come for Foster the People to make their entrance, and they made quite a brilliant one. Opting to start their show off with a crowd-favourite from their debut album Torches, Foster the People launched the crowd into a frenzy of flailing arms and legs as most of the audience sang every word to "Miss You" back to the band. The synth-filled instrumentation had everyone up and jamming, mirroring the way that front man Mark Foster was dancing on stage.

The band kept the energy high as they transitioned from "Miss You" into "Life on the Nickel", yet another favourite off of Torches, leaving me to wonder when the band would start playing songs off of Supermodel. I did not have to wait long for the band to jump right in to their fantastic sophomore effort, seeing as the next song they played was the exotic-sounding "Are You What You Want To Be?", the first track off of Supermodel. This track led right into the chilled-out "Ask Yourself" at their live show, just as it does on the album. Hips swayed back and forth in time to the tune as the anticipation for the band to play some of their hits kept on building.

Instead of playing one of their biggest hits such as "Helena Beat" or "Coming of Age" next, the band decided to tempt the audience a little more before finally giving them what they wanted. Foster the People played yet another song off of Torches, a slower jam entitled "Waste". There was a moment in which Foster sat himself down at a piano and continued to beautifully sing the chorus to an eerily quiet Massey Hall: all the other instruments had cut out in order to let Foster's stunning voice shine. However, Foster was not alone for very long, because soon the majority of the crowd began to sing the chorus with him, forcing Foster to stop and smile for a bit, in awe of how far both he and the band had come. You could see the excitement on his face as he continued to allow the crowd to sing for him, before jumping back in and singing with us. That was a truly intimate moment that no fan at that show will forget.

The show sped along like a freight train, never faltering, and Foster the People kept bringing out its A-game. Each song sounds exactly like it does on the band's albums. They decided to slow down the show at a couple points later on, where Mark Foster exposed himself to the world, playing emotion-filled tunes such as "Goats in Trees" and "The Truth", but each time they would play a slower song, Foster the People would bring the energy back by playing one of their hits right afterwards. These musicians truly know how to work and alter their own set list so that it flows flawlessly.

By the time the show ended after "Pumped Up Kicks", "Helena Beat", and "Houdini", Foster the People were brought back out on stage in a record-time for their encore, lured back by repeated chants of "F-T-P!" For the encore, the band opted to play "Best Friend" and "Don't Stop", but in between songs, Foster decided to have a heart-to-heart with the audience as he dropped a motivating speech. Foster urged fans to get off their cell phones and help each other out, for together we "have the potential to be the greatest generation to ever be". The speech was followed by a roar of cheers, which the band used as momentum to start the opening guitar riff of "Don't Stop". Foster the People had everyone on their feet from the beginning of their show right until the end.

The only negative thing I have to say about the show is that I wish Foster the People had played Supermodel closer "Fire Escape", because that song would have suited a vintage venue like Massey Hall perfectly. 

However, Foster the People definitely put on a fantastic live show that satisfied all in the audience; after the show, I even heard a group of boys saying how they wanted to go listen to Supermodel right then and there, and I think that if a band can manage to get some people to feel that way, then they must be doing something right.

Personal Highlight: Mark Foster's maniacal laugh during "Don't Stop". That is truly something that has to be heard live and in person.