Foster the People at Target Center, 6/22/2012

Foster the People
With Tokyo Police Club and Kimbra
Target Center, Minneapolis
Friday, June 22, 2012

It's difficult to retain your indie-cred once you hit the big time -- look at Dave Matthews Band -- and people must have liked Nickelback once upon a time. Riding off the success of their breakout single, "Pumped Up Kicks," Foster the People returned to Minneapolis, graduating from their sold out show at First Avenue last December to the Target Center, toting along an elaborate light show and stage production. But were they ready to rock this huge stage?

Opening for the band was New Zealand singer Kimbra, who danced around onstage with her brassy voice and poufy theatrical dress. The second opener, Tokyo Police Club were finishing up their part of the tour with the group. The young band did a good job at warming up the crowd with their indie-rock that resembled OK Go, but the audience soon grew restless with a set that ran about five songs too long.

Foster the People at Target Center, 6/22/2012
Photo by Tony Nelson

With the stage set, Foster the People opened with the driving "Miss You," and segueing into "Life on the Nickel," which followed the back curtain drop to reveal a large Aztec-style sun that moved and a large screen bearing the band name. There were a total of four keyboards onstage that the band played a "musical chairs" adaptation with instruments, including Mark Foster taking center stage with an extra drum. The majority of the songs had each member working multiple instrument at the same time, especially in the percussion section with an extra band member jumping between the keyboards and filling in as a second drummer.

FTP has been on tour for sixteen straight months, playing 290 shows within that time, including two Minneapolis shows in one day, prompting Mark Foster to say, "It's good to be back." Besides that, little stage banter emerged in between songs, but the band did make an effort to have special effects, which ultimately were of little consequence. For example: Bubbles and paper airplanes?

The band changed things up a little bit on pieces that they are most likely tired of playing by now, especially with such a short list of songs to choose from. So we got an extra drum intro on "Waste." Their latest single "Don't Stop (Color on the Walls)" was surprisingly enjoyable. It was most likely because Mark doesn't sing in his odd falsetto for the majority of the song -- making it very un-Foster-the-People-like. Kimbra, in a costume change to a rainbow hooded cape, and her band joined the group onstage for "Warrior," a song that she co-wrote with Mark. Finishing up the regular set was the keyboard heavy "Houdini." It's a shame that photographers are only allowed to shoot the first three songs, because "Houdini" brought out a marching band that weaved its way out into the crowd. 

Foster the People at Target Center, 6/22/2012
Photo by Tony Nelson

Of course the band wasn't going to finish without performing their biggest hit, "Pumped Up Kicks," adding an extended outro remix that included two large blow-up balloon animals and confetti.

It's difficult to not be called a sellout with as much commercial success as Foster the People has had. Even for cynics, the pull of the band is clearly evident when they have a stadium singing and dancing along to every song -- even the guy in the crowd spotted wearing his sunglasses.

Critic's bias: I honestly wanted to like Foster the People; I was fairly neutral in my expectations coming into the show, but I was just not able to get into the music. Mark Foster's voice is too nasally and grating for my taste.

Second critic's bias: This was the third time in as many months that I had seen Kimbra. I also was not impressed by the New Zealand Katy Perry, which was unfortunate because I believe I was sitting next to Kimbra's number one fan. I think with Kimbra, you either love or hate her music -- there's no in-between.

The crowd: A surprising diverse mix from middle-agers to young kids.

Overheard in the crowd: "You can't claim to be indie-rock anymore when you have bros at your show."


Miss You
Life on the Nickel
Helena Beat
Broken Jaw
I Would Do Anything For You
Call It What You Want
Don't Stop (Color on the Walls)

Pumped Up Kicks

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