September 30, 2011

Foster The People/ Cults/ Reptar - Terminal 5 - September 27, 2011

If you read the post after this one about X, you will see that it is written by Herschel Salan. I had the pleasure of meeting him with his wife and daughter for first time on Tuesday night. The four of us struck up a conversation a little before Cults' set and continued talking afterward. We also had a little episode, when this dumb ass big guy who heard his favorite Cults song, decided to push himself through the crowd blocking Hershel's wife Lisa and his daughter Audrey's view.

The big guy was drunk and cute like an overgrown puppy that doesn't know his own strength. After the big guy left us and then returned from the bar, Lisa spoke to one of T5's bouncers on the side of the stage to make sure the guy wouldn't harass anyone. Hershel stayed cool and talked with the guy who told him that my eyeglasses made me look like Elvis Costello. Of course, he had a stupid shit eating grin on his face like he was the first person in my life to say that - I smirked. The guy eventually went away during Foster the People's set and we all enjoyed the show.


After checking out Reptar on their MySpace page, I wasn't quite sure what to expect on Tuesday night. Looking at the photographs of the band and listening to their music, I knew they had a sense of humor but that didn't prepare me for what a fun opening band they would be. Before they went on there were inflatable plastic pink unicorns and blue sharks (that are usually found in pools where there are lots of preschool children) placed around the stage. During their set they threw some of the inflatable toys into audience or just left them on stage. The toys were just plain silly but it went along with the rest of the Reptar's charm.

At 8PM band walked out in the dark with multicolored lit up batons held above their head as the audience applauded. Again, it was silly but fun. I believe the first song was "Water Runs," at least that is the song title that matches up to the lyrics I wrote down. The song started out slow with Graham Ulicny doing the singing. Ulicny's vocals sounded to me like a male version of Carol Channing, so at first I thought "oh boy this is going to be painful." But once the synth part came in and the music picked up in tempo it was all good.

Though I found Ulicny's vocals weird, his and the rest of the bands energy made everything work well together. The band danced in place through out an extremely lively set, with the one thing I couldn't help noticing being William Kennedy's hair which kept wildly flopping from side to side as he danced behind his keyboards.

I didn't know any of Reptar's songs when I was watching them live but when I listened at home I was able to recall how much I liked their songs especially "Stuck in My ID." I specifically recalled "ID" because there was something about it, (I think it was the keyboards sounds) that reminded my of Passion Pit.

Reptar's crazy ass bio on their MySpace page says the are from the Athens-Atlanta-Asheville area, so I will just take it that they are from the South. I just hope they come back to New York - soon!

Reptar's Setlist
1. Water Runs
2. New Song
3. Cannabis Canyon
4. Stuck in My ID
5. Houseboat Babies

Reptar are:
Andrew McFarland - drummer
Ryan Engleberger- bass
Graham Ulicny - guitarist and vocals
William Kennedy - synthesizers and samples


Cults are what I would call Indies version of a hair band. Aesthetically, it's all about the hair. Her hair, his hair and bass player Nathan Aguilar's hair. It's not that their hair was big, it was actually straight, chest length, and covering both gentleman's faces. The quasi 70's Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad) look was similar to It in the Adams Family.

Cults are a duo made up of Madeline Follin on vocals and Brian Oblivion on guitar. It's mostly Oblivion's look that would make one think that Cults' music was similar to duos like The Hundred In The Hands or even School of Seven Bells but actually Cults sound is much more like Lykke Li's. Most if not all of their songs are throw backs to the early 60's. That's from the bah-bah-hum-bah beat of the opening song "Abducted" to the melody and feel of "Never Heal Myself." Never mind that Cults' song "Bumper" sounds like a rewrite of The Shangri Las "Give Him A Great Big Kiss."

I'm not putting down Cults, I really enjoyed their set. I was dancing along in place like everyone around me. I liked the bands energy as well as their long hair shtick. The early 60s sound is one my favorites that keeps circling around every few years. In the 80's we had Rachel Sweet and the like, in this decade we have bands like Cults.

10 songs is usually a lot of songs for an opening band to do. Usually, it's 8 songs tops but Cults seemed to zoom through their set with ease leaving the crowd wanting for more. They could have done "Rave On" - oh well, next time.

Cults Set List
The Curse
Never Heal Myself
Most Wanted
You Know What I Mean
Walk The Night
Never Saw The Point
Go Outside
Oh My God

Cults are:
Madeline Follin – vocals
Brian Oblivion – vocals, guitar, percussion
Additional musicians:
Gabriel Rodriguez – aux, guitar
Marc Deriso – drums
Nathan Aguilar – bass guitar

Foster the People 

Photo taken by Herschel Salan
Foster the People opened up their set with touring musician Isom Innis playing the tom along with, and in front of, Mark Pontius playing drums. At the same time, Mark Foster was down stage revving up the audience as he walked the stage edge banging on a cowbell. Foster eventually sat behind the piano as the song commenced.

Photo taken by Herschel Salan
I really liked the way Foster the People's stage was set up. It was done in a way that was spacious, giving plenty room for the musicians, especially Innis and Foster, to move around. The spaciousness of the stage, the non stop movement of the musicians, and the lights that came from behind, from the sides and on to the stage made the entire show exciting to watch.

Sometimes, the second song in a set is more important than the first but for some reason I wasn't feeling "Miss You."   Yet, it didn't really matter because "Miss You" was so short. Before performing "Life On The Nickel," Foster confessed the band had never played T5 before and how unbelievable it was that they had played the much smaller Mercury Lounge only 9 months prior. It was good to hear him say that because Foster echoed what Hershel told me before their set started. In conversation, Hershel recalled how cramped the band looked on the Mercury Lounge stage. John Schafer also brought up the topic with Foster the following day on the radio show Soundcheck.  If you would like to hear the interview and acoustic versions of "Pumped Up Kicks" and "Don't Stop," I embedded the sound clip below.

Innis and Pontius did their tom and drums duo routine again for "Life On The Nickel" as Foster sang in falsetto doing his funky dance steps across the front of the stage. There was a breakdown portion of the song when bassists Cubbie Fink stopped playing keyboard and prompted the audience to clap along before he put his bass back on to jam out the song with the rest of the band. The song simmered out with a moog sounding synth patch playing a solo.

"I Would Do Anything For You" is my favorite song on Foster the People's CD and was my favorite song in concert. Foster did some more of his dance steps and strutted around stage with the confidence of a person who has lived there all his life. Foster mentioned on Soundcheck that the band had had 9 months to work out there stage performance and it showed. The performance was tight. It seemed like the band didn't miss a beat.

"Broken Jaw" was not originally on the band's recording "Torches" but later was added as a bonus track only on Itunes. During the live performance of the song Foster danced back and forth, between playing the tom part and singing front and center, but as the song progressed Innis and Foster switched hit between both the keyboards and the tom.

Though he was visible, touring guitarist Sean Cimino seemed to stay upstage for most of Foster the Peoples set. I believe that "Broken Jaw" was one of the few times he cheated forward but still not long enough to get a decent photo. "Broken Jaw" eventually ended in what seemed like a musical frenzy which made "Waste" seem like a chill out song with Foster just sitting at the piano for most of it.

"Call It What You Want" made Tuesday night's crowd scream as soon as they heard the intro. Foster metaphorically took the ball and ran with it by really getting into his vocal, dancing, and working the crowd on both sides of the stage. Foster then scaled the momentum back a little, playing guitar on the mid-tempo rocker "Don't Stop (Color On The Walls)."

The stage went completely dark before Foster The People went into "Helena Beat." Once the song started Foster was joined on vocals by the entire audience who couldn't resist singing along. Foster still kept his guitar in hand and there were a few more percussive moments with Innis on toms and Foster dancing around before the song finally ended and the band said goodnight.

Foster came out for an encore and did an unreleased song by himself on piano called "Ruby."  It was a nice moment but I kind of felt it should have happened more in the body of the show.  Nonetheless, it went over well and was followed by a special arrangement of "Pumped Up Kicks - Pirate Style" which consisted of house music portions. You can watch the video of the encore that Herchel sent me. I can't say any more other than I really enjoyed Foster The People and can't wait until their next CD comes out.

 Foster The People Set List

Foster The People are:
Mark Foster - vocals, keyboards, piano, synthesizers, guitar, programming, percussion
Mark Pontius - drums and extra percussion
Cubbie Fink - bass and backing vocals
Additional musicians:
Sean Cimino - guitar, keyboard, synthesizer, and backing vocals
Isom Innis - keyboard, piano, and backing vocals

Foster the People on WNYC Radio 9/28/11

Videos from the show taken by Herschel Salan

As mentioned in the WNYC radio clip, Foster the People performed on SNL a week after the show.  They were in rare form though they didn't do the "Pirate Style" version of "Pumped Up Kicks;" they performed "Houdini" with 3 female background  vocalists, a horn section and the one and only Kenny G.  Their mothers must have been proud!!

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