Music Review: Foster the People at The National

Michael Todd
Contributing Writer

Friday’s concert at The National, the historic theatre-gone-music-venue, was one of otherworldly proportions despite its relative brevity.

While opening band Reptar’s sound was definitely one of dynamic and engaging levels, it may not have been the easiest to digest. One crowd goer described the band as a type of “alternative dance” with songs that more often than not took confusing changes in direction.

Audience members were left uncertain as to whether or not they should be jamming or swaying and took ready prompting from band members as to appropriate times to clap and thrash along.

Even though Friday’s show marked Cults’ second time in Richmond, Brian Oblivion (vocals, percussion and guitar) confided in the crowd that, “Really it’s more like the first time because we got so drunk (last time) I couldn’t remember it.”

Displays of humor such as these were frequent throughout the set. At one point, Oblivion dedicated a song to “all the kids out on a school night,” only to be reminded by co-vocalist Madeline Follin that, “It’s Friday.”

A near tangible increase in gusto marked Cults’ performance, with rancorous cheers and choruses of “You’re gorgeous!” directed at Oblivion and Follin. However, an underlying theme of angst combined with a definite, concrete sound without much variation meant that songs tended to blend together to those unfamiliar with Cults’ music.

Promoting their first album, “Torches,” Foster the People’s set, though relatively short, was nonetheless saturated with ground-shaking energy from start to finish.

Lead vocalist Mark Foster declared early in the night that, after nine months on tour, “I can instantly tell whether it’s gonna be a good show or not … (and) you guys are awesome.”

The group’s first show in Richmond was sure to be a memorable one as the crowd showed its enthusiasm and appreciation not only through its energy and cheers, but also through less subtle acts of praise.

One girl risked being trampled in her desperate attempt to reach the stage by crawling through the legs of other audience members, and more than a few were escorted out for trying to fist fight their way through the crowd.

A light show to rival the aurora borealis bathed the band in extraterrestrial light as people pressed so densely to the stage that the only place to put your arms was up, as if in religious praise.

“They kind of remind me of Vampire Weekend,” VCU student Emma Hadley said of the band’s indie pop/alternative sound.

The audience simulated with terrifying accuracy a herd of stampeding animals in their stomping, clapping, bellowing appeal for a short yet satisfying encore that included the band’s best-known song, “Pumped Up Kicks.”

The show ended well before 1 a.m., sending the well-serenaded audience into the still-young night for further shenanigans.

Photo courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment

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