For the encore of Foster the People’s brief secret show at Los Angeles’ Troubadour last night (June 2), frontman Mark Foster hesitantly took a seat behind a keyboard and settled into a gorgeous, self-conscious new tune called “Fire Escape.”
“Los Angeles, I’ve waited for you to pick yourself up and change,” Foster sang dreamily, the tension in his body melting away as he dug into the ode to his hometown. It’s the place he “cut his teeth at places like Molly Malone’s,” dreaming that one day he’d get to take the coveted Troubadour stage.
Six keyboards, a number of drums and a whole slew of other instruments were sprawled across the large stage, but the sold-out show itself felt small. Bodies clustered together intimately and when the band played songs like “Helena Beat,” “Life on the Nickel” and “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls),” dance parties ensued, amazingly free of recording devices or iPhones. While walking into the venue, the audience was strictly encouraged not to take pictures. Lalo Medina, known to many as Jack White’s right-hand man, came onstage right before Foster the People went on to ask people if anyone had ever seen a YouTube video online taken at a show as good as the show itself. No one responded and the audience was pretty good at keeping their phones down, especially with security guards flashing lights into people’s eyes when they even so much as took their phone out of their pockets.
But the vibe wasn’t ruined by the phone policing, and Foster the People were effectively able to bring their energy “back to the grass floor,” as Foster said — back to the days before distractions during shows, when fans could only focus on anything but scouring Twitter to see who else was hiding in the crowd. It also seemed a comforting reminder to Foster, who brought a rare, refreshing vulnerability to his performance. He told the audience that Foster the People’s forthcoming sophomore album, set for release later this year, felt like a “new birth” and a “new beginning” for the band, a group of young locals who blew up overnight and barely had time to breathe in 2012.