As the first major concert of the semester, Foster the People’s sold-out show at the Orpheum was a triumphant success. Breaking into the mainstream with their hit single, “Pumped Up Kicks,” Foster the People have been a mainstay in alt-rock since 2011. However, Saturday marked the band’s very first appearance in Madison.
Fans came out in droves to see their musical darlings. With a line that stretched halfway down the 100 Block of Johnson Street, it became abundantly clear that the fans would convey their excitement shown in line to a raucous display of affection during the show.
As guests poured in, the crowd began to move like the ocean—ebbing and flowing toward and away from the stage as wave after wave of eager fans fought for the best spots available.
Opening for the headliners were California-based indie pop band Palm Springsteen. Combining heavy reverb and synths with a pop-oriented sound, Palm Springsteen were fantastic openers for Foster the People.
Their brief set was just enough to leave audience members craving more music before the headliners arrived. Not only did their performance get the crowd excited, but the band clearly attracted a handful of new fans with their contagious sound.
After a soundcheck that lasted nearly an hour, Foster the People finally emerged into the smoke-filled theater.
Kicking off the show with a series of tracks from their new record, Sacred Hearts Club, the theater was enveloped in bass so heavy my organs felt like they might burst.
A slight departure from the group’s previous work, songs from Sacred Hearts Club were clearly influenced by hip-hop and EDM production. Despite this new aesthetic for the band, they were still able to hold on to what made their previous albums so enjoyable. A dizzying light show synced to the pace of the beat accompanied every song, creating visuals that took the performance to a new level. Despite the Orpheum’s small size, it seemed as though Foster the People were performing for an audience of thousands.
Following a succession of tracks from Torches and Sacred Hearts Club, the band finally broke into tracks from their sophomore album, Supermodel. The psychedelically-inspired songs served as a gorgeous bridge to the massive finale.
Near the end of the set, frontman Mark Foster participated in the age-old tradition of preaching about music’s power to unite people from different walks of life.
While the speech was as cliché as they come, Foster had a point. There was a feeling that the fans had a genuine connection to the music the band had created over the years—a connection that I haven’t felt at a show in a very long time.
Immediately after his speech, Foster broke into a stunning rendition of the track “Sit Next to Me”—one of the lead singles from Sacred Hearts Club. Fueled by an overwhelming sense of bliss and unity, the audience sang along to the chorus word for word.
Then, as expected, Foster the People closed down the show with two tracks from their debut album. The anthemic “Miss You” provided an extended instrumental to which heads, hands and bodies could be seen bouncing up and down recklessly.
The lights went dark and everyone waited patiently for the most highly-anticipated song of the night: “Pumped Up Kicks.” Screams of excitement rang out as soon as the iconic opening drum-and-synth combo rang through the theater. The infectious whistling near the end of the track combined with an acoustic break made for a serene conclusion to a show of massive proportions.
After their clearly successful Madison debut, fans could be heard raving about the show as the full house slowly emptied into the dimly lit State Street. With a staggering amount of concerts soon to come in Madison, Foster the People set the bar unbelievably high for upcoming artists. If other bands can capture the energy and excitement that Foster the People brought, then we are in for a spectacular collection of concerts this fall.