Foster the People is best known for 2011's chart-topper "Pumped Up Kicks," a song that's so undeniably catchy that no one could stop humming it, even after realizing that the lyrics darkly reference a school shooting from the point of view of a would-be killer.
But these guys have much, much more to offer than this controversial hit, and their latest album "Supermodel," a follow-up to their debut, "Torches," is a testament to that. While they considerably toned down the electronica, "Supermodel" still continues to offer thought-provoking lyrics and social commentary wrapped up in (mostly) cheerful, upbeat instrumentals.
The group closed out Saturday's Jazz Fest at the Samsung Galaxy Stage, performing in the same time slot as Bruce Springsteen, who closed down the Acura Stage. While Springsteen by far drew the biggest crowd, Foster the People attracted a big pack and a mostly younger demographic.
They started off with a bang that set the tone for the evening, as a buoyant and excitable frontman Mark Foster jumped around in an understated white T-shirt and Ray-Bans, asking the audience, "Are You What You Wanna Be?," the first song off the new album.
The next hour and a half was an energetic blend of angsty, catchy pop/rock that was at times reminiscent of mid-’90s Weezer, if Weezer had access to Adderall, millennial problems and social media to consider. The band seamlessly played tracks from both of their albums and offered a toned-down, acoustic version of "Houdini."
Foster was stoked to be playing their first Jazz Fest. At one point he told the crowd, "I love places that know who they are. New Orleans has the strongest identity of any place I've ever been in the U.S."
When they played the obligatory "Kicks" toward the end of the set, it was well-received but certainly not the highlight, because with all of their other songs, they proved that they have a winning combination of lyrical depth, powerful instrumentals and a fun, spunky stage presence.
Photos by Erica Goldring for AXS.com
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