Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Concert Review: Foster The People Pumps Up Manila!

Title: Foster The People Pumps Up Manila!
Written by Jamie Ortega
Photos by Ferdie Arquero, Kris Rocha and Magic Liwanag Photography

I must admit, when I heard that Indie-pop act Foster The People was going to Manila for a one-night show, I had my doubts. The three man band made up of vocalist/songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Mark Foster, bassist Cubbie Fink, and drummer Mark Pontious only had one hit to their name, the infectious and upbeat Pumped Up Kicks, which, in my mind, was certainly not enough to fill up the Araneta Coliseum.

Boy, was I wrong! (And pleasantly surprised, I might add). As soon as I entered the Big Dome last October 8, 2012 I saw a large crowd full of fans crazy about the group’s signature electronica stylings, heavy hooks, and infectious rhythms. Hipsters and non-hipsters alike (although I must say there were a lot of hipsters), immediately showed their love for the group by standing on their seats as early as the band’s first song, the sleek and heavy hooked Miss You. After listening to their first round of tunes, I slowly began to understand their appeal, why people were instantly drawn to the indie electronic outfit’s hypnotic disco pop sound, –in a landscape full of forgettable auto-tune manufactured hits, the band’s diverse musical stylings ranging from foot stomping arcade game-sounding anthems to wailing ballads, all covered in reverb-heavy synths, is a breath of fresh air indeed!
By the time the second song, Life On The Nickel, came on, the Big Dome was starting to look like a lit up boulevard as thousands of people threw up their glow sticks in the air and began to scream. But more than just the crowd’s reaction to the band, props must indeed be given to the three lads as well because they really did all they could to give their audience a great show. Mark Foster lived up to the many slashes in his name by running from instrument to instrument- clad in a white jacket the good-looking vocalist started Life On The Nickel by playing on the piano then immediately ran to the drums playing across Mark Pontious, before going to the mike stand then back to the piano.

One could really see the passion and heart the group had for their music as the third song and fourth songs, Houdini and Broken Jaw, came on. It wasn’t any kind of passion mind you; it was an infectious kind of passion that made the crowd start to sing the song’s lyrics in unison. Pleased by the reaction of the audience, front man Foster began to head bang while playing the piano before stretching his arms sideways and  doing a little dance on stage. Even if you aren’t a hard-core fan, the intense and fun-filled presence of the group on stage makes it worth every penny.

Let’s face it- I don’t know about you but I think I am a little sick and tired of the usual “Mahal kita, salamat,” greetings from foreign acts. Good thing Mark Foster went a little further by sharing in between songs a connection the front man had to our country. Foster revealed that his grandfather, who served in the military, lived in Manila in the ‘40s while his dad who was a hippie, stayed in Manila for two years back in the ‘70s. “My dad told me he watched a band play here back in 1973,” Foster shared to the audience. “I’m older than my dad when he was here.” 
He was also amused at the fact that the Big Dome was where boxer Muhammad Ali fought Joe Frazier during the historic Thrilla In Manila. “You guys got history. You guys got passion,” he marveled. “You guys have Manny Pacquiao, the best boxer since Ali,” he added. 

After performing Broken Jaw, the boys launched into a crowd favorite, Would Do Anything For You, followed by Waste and Love. Aside from the music, I also liked the play of lights that lit the stage, from purple to red, to yellow; they made the show even more vibrant and appealing to watch. Among all of the songs, I think I enjoyed Call It What You Want the most because it was where Foster played around with the audience. He sang the “woooohoooo,” part of the song and made the audience do the same, an act that made him reveal a conversation he had with Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine. According to Valentine, the best thing he remembers about Manila was that everyone had perfect pitch- a comment which elicited even more cheers and screams from the crowd. He ended the song by jumping around, dancing onstage, playing on the keyboards and drums again. I was seriously getting tired just watching the whole group perform onstage! 

Call It What You Want was followed by Don’t Stop (Color On TheWalls), Warrant, and Helena Beat. After a total of 11 songs the group called it a night by performing two more songs for their encore, Ruby and their biggest hit to date, Pumped Up Kicks. To end the night, Foster jumped into the audience shaking hands and mingling with people as two white inflatable balloons rose up onstage. Needlessly to say, everyone walked out of Araneta Coliseum pumped and incredibly happy. As if the entire show wasn’t enough to make any non-convert morph into a Foster The People fan, did you know that they didn’t have a sound check before the show? That’s how effortlessly good they are! 

Celebrities spotted in the audience: Anne Curtis, Khalil Ramos, John James Uy 

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