As the warm evening gave way to the call of The Palace, a packed house of early birds were present to see Last Dinosaurs sway through their opening slot. While underwhelming at times, the polite and diligent attendees, most in cocktail dresses, it would be the mid-set intrusion of a broken guitar strap that brought life to the band. Suddenly, there was a reason to hop around to their down beat avant-pop. A warmer indeed.
Giddy young faces filled the beautiful old building theatre that is The Palace. This was to be a mix of the old and the new; a fine reflection of the surrounds. Crammed into the crevices around the stairs, the bars and the leering balcony were the eager smiles bubbling away for the summer sounds of Mark Foster & Co. The core three members of Foster on guitar, vocal and synthesiser, along with drummer Mark Pontius and bassist Cubbie Fink on backing vocal duties bring with them an array of bright sounds.
Following on from their triumphant evening set on the Converse Stage at Sunday’s Melbourne leg of the Big Day Out, the L.A. band gathered under almost menacing red lighting. Rounding out the bulked live sound with additional percussion vocals was Isom Innis, pushing Pontius out stage-left giving room to an additional guitarist Sean Cimino behind Foster on keys. With the stage filled to the tune of shadowy drones, the infectious anticipation stepped its way right up through the masses.
Flying through their solid set list, pulled mostly from last year’s debut album Torches, there wasn’t any delay in drawing rapturous applause from the doting crowd as former jingle writer Foster’s well trained knack for crafting a song rang clear through each number. With the crowd bouncing in time with a now mobile Foster’s every move, “Houdini” and “I Would Do Anything For You” proved a mid-set highpoint within a staggeringly high standard, confident display of collective talents.
Australia has been something of a saviour for the band as Mark Foster touchingly explains it was here, rather than the United States where they first gained any significant airplay. With the Triple J-heads beaming to the due appreciation, Foster lead the band into a raucous rendition of their crossover hit “Call It What You Want” to equal measures of flailing arms across the room. The furious crashing percussion Innis/Pontius duo rose up through the crowd’s voice, leaving everyone in shaking distance just a little bit sweatier.
Once everyone had calmed down, Foster again quietly took to the stage edge this time to do his bit of star-crossed name dropping. “Rivers Cuomo and I…” he began, as Weezer fan’s ears pricked up all around the room. Chuffed that Cuomo had told Foster he wanted to cover Mark’s song, Foster politely returned the favour with a faithful rendition of Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So.”
Saving the biggest, brightest star for the close “Pumped Up Kicks” brought Foster to near messiah pose amid a wash of beaming lights. Waves of applause were met with reprise from the band before sounding out with a shining crash. Foster The People have made their mark, linking the pop sensibilities of Foster himself with endless, enthusiasm from the band. They’ll be back a bigger name and with venues to suit.
– Ciarán Wilcox