Foster the People and Cherry Glazerr At Stubb’s Amphitheater, ACL Late Night Show, October 12, 2017
Review and Photos by Jim Chapin
ACL Festival Late Night Shows are as much a part of the two-weekend event as the Austin City Limits Festival itself. They are an opportunity for the bands to play longer sets in smaller venues for new fans eager to hear more and for the rabid fans to get closer to their idols. At Stubb’s it’s easy to discern which fans are which. The hardcore loyalists who waited in line for hours to secure a spot down front were pressed against the barricade whereas those who are new to the party hung out in the back of Stubb’s Amphitheater. But it really made no difference where one stood for the Foster the People show. Once the band hit the stage and blasted into their opening number, everyone smiled and bounced along to the good-time music.
Foster the People is one of those bands that sneak into your psyche and takes root. You can try and be nonchalant and cool, but you‘ll quickly find yourself giving in to the catchy melodies, good-time dance beats, and infectious energy that make up this Southern California band’s musical catalog.
FOSTER THE PEOPLE PHOTO GALLERY
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The band came out strong with the big, bouncy sounds of “Pay the Man” from the group’s latest album “Sacred Hearts Club,” the title of which was displayed in a stage-spanning neon sign flanking the six-piece band. Front-man and songwriter Mark Foster emerged with slick-backed hair and fancy footwork, gripping the mic center-stage and punctuating his lyrics with rap-style hand gestures. The audience echoed back in a sea of raised hands and dancing fingers which grew thicker as the band segued into the more well-known “Helena Beat” from their debut album. The party was just beginning.
Foster hit the stage running and never stopped. He effortlessly moved from multiple keyboards to guitar to vocals and back again throughout. In fact, each bandmember continually switched between instruments in a mesmerizing display of musicianship as they worked through a jam-packed set list.
All in all the band played an impressive twenty songs spanning their entire history. They showcased an artful blend of genres in a dance-pop/alt-rock stew seasoned with twinges of punk and hip-hop. There was very little talking between songs allowing the set to seamlessly flow from one song to the next. And it all worked, keeping the crowd bopping and swaying throughout the night. They even managed to slip in an unexpected cover of the Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop” that on paper looks completely out of place, yet it seemed to work, providing a smooth transition from the persistent beat of “Lotus Eater” to their poppy hit “Houdini.”
Foster broke the mood a bit with a somewhat rambling speech just before launching into their biggest hit. “Pumped Up Kicks” is an ironic song about a school shooter plotting revenge that really addresses a much larger topic regarding the ills of society. (In light of the horrific events in Las Vegas the week before, the band had chosen not to play this song during their festival set, replacing it with John Lennon’s “Love”.)
He spoke about the responsibilities of creating an album in a world of oppression, polluted politics and an angry planet. He said he “felt strongly that it was important for us to make a joyful record . . . for using joy as a weapon . . . because joy is the best weapon against oppression.” He stressed that “Despite what we see in the media . . . People are inherently good” and that “when evil rises up, we must protest against it.” He decried politicians slamming the peaceful protests on the football field while ignoring Puerto Rico. “Doesn’t that seem like a smokescreen?” he asked an approvingly vocal crowd. “You can be angry at what I’m saying . . . or you can be angry about what I’m saying . . . I’m just saying we need to try and calm that down and reach across and pick people up instead of pushing them down . . . Love is greater than politics!”
And with that the distinctive bass line of “Pumped up Kicks” had the crowd screaming its approval. However, it was hard to discern if the applause was for the message or the song itself.
The set came to a close with the loud, thumping drums and wailing synths of “Miss You” and more of Foster’s strutting dance moves. After a brief intermission, the band came back with a two-song encore before bringing the party to a close with “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy,” a high energy track off of their latest release. Judging from the smiles on everyone’s face, Foster the People delivered the goods.
The opening act for the evening was Los Angeles rock band Cherry Glazerr. Their music was an interesting combination of rock, pop, and atmospheric techno punctuated by occasional bouts of punk rock screaming. At times the four-piece band sounded like early Pink Floyd and at others they exhibited a screamo aesthetic. And yet it worked beautifully!
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Singer/guitarist Clementine Creevy held the audience’s attention with a delightfully quirky and engaging style. She easily leapt from simple vocals to hair-flipping guttural shouting. The rest of the band truly looked to be enjoying themselves, propelling the music forward and making for a set that was very well received. The band did seem to be a bit penned-in, having very little space in which to play. Given some room to move and full set time, Cherry Glazerr would surely be something to see.