Sunday night was a great one for Seattleites pretty much every kind. The Seahawks’ final playoffs game against the Forty-Niners stayed tight throughout, but in the end, the Hawks emerged victorious and everyone in Seattle jumping and shouting in the streets. But perhaps the luckiest of the these made their way over to the Crocodile Sunday night to see a delightful, under the radar performance from Foster The People. Sunday night marked the band’s return to the stage after some time away to write and record sophomore LP Supermodel in various places around the world. While the record won’t drop until March 18, dedicated fans got to hear the band perform much of it in a rousing, joyous setting. Together with an excellent opening set from local singer and songwriter Tom Eddy, Sunday at the Crocodile was unquestionably the place to be.
Tom Eddy will kill you softly. Whether singing and fronting the dance party as part of Beat Connection or alone in quiet room crafting quiet, delicate pieces of art, he does so in always near perfect, but never flashy form. Sunday night, the only difficulty he had was getting the room focused up front. “I’m about to play a bunch of sad, quiet songs, so this is going to go really well,” he chuckled. But after a handful of finger picks, he gave the crowd one more opportunity to go wild before settling into his set. Eddy leaned into the mic and quietly whispered “Go Hawks” and the Crocodile exploded. But after that, it only took a line or two for the chatterboxes to realize what they were missing. Eddy’s songs are small wonders pulling from countless decades of influence. Whether it’s the straight-off-the-phonograph “Sitting Still” or breathtaking folk melancholy of “The Bread Maker’s Blues”, Eddy makes his craft look easy. He even pulled out the classic show tune “Paper Moon” just to tack a couple more years on his historically covered ground. The room may not have needed much in terms of warming up, but Tom Eddy made every minute of his song count and left more than a couple heads turning and jotting down his name on their smart phones.
If you’ve never seen Foster The People live, you’ll know why they are listed near the top of every other festival list this year within five minutes of their set opening. Packing a ridiculous amount of equipment onto the Crocodile stage and housing a good seven or eight people at a time, Foster The People sure weren’t stripping much down for the smaller than usual setting. Rather, this was an opportunity for them to warm back up to the grace of the stage in a room where they could do no wrong. After opening with new track “Pseudologia Fantastica”, they played back-to-back Torches burners “Miss You” and “Call It What You Want” to a room completely on fire. “What time did you guys start drinking today?” Mark Foster joked. Regardless of the initial source of excitement, all Hawk fever subsided into pure bliss in this setting. At this point, Foster The People has their 2011 debut LP down to a science. Every cut off Torches was pitch perfect, from the synth pop wonders “Helena Beat” and “Houdini” to the darker, groovy falsetto showcase “Life On The Nickel”. But all the new material we heard tonight was equally fantastic. The band debuted at least three tracks to the world for the first time here tonight and played five or six Supermodel cuts total. As they’ve described it to be, the new material is much heavier on guitar than on keyboard, but the new arrangement style does the band nothing but favors. One particularly interesting new track “A Beginner’s Guide To Destroying The Moon” makes sampling use of Clams Casino’s beat on A$AP Rocky cut “LVL”, creating the basis for a heavy-handed rock cut. Despite being maybe the least likely pairing in history, it was totally awesome.
As the band waned towards their encore, the energy diverged into the more serious. Though they can’t do anything about it’s massive radio success, the band still treat “Pumped Up Kicks” with all of the somber respect it deserves. The song’s message about broken homes and social outcast is never more evident than it is in the live setting, with Mark and his band playing their biggest single without once coaxing the crowd into hokey participation at the expense of the moral. Finally, for the encore, Mark Foster returned to the stage alone to play the beautiful Supermodel closer “Fire Escape” alone. “It’s funny,” he says, “usually, they say the nerves wear off after a couple songs, but we just played a whole set and I’m still nervous.” Of course, he has nothing to be nervous about – the song is incredible and even a room full of hometown pride on such a special day is dead silent for the quiet ballad. But after years working as a songwriter and trying to find his place in a confusing sea of commercial musical endeavors, it makes sense that Mark wants to make every single second count here and now. Maybe that’s what has helped to make Foster The People one of the most successful bands of the last few years. The rest of the band followed upon the song’s closing and knocked out Supermodel lead single “Coming Of Age” in a flash of light. Sunday night’s return of Foster The People was a Seattle treat, and marked the beginning of what will undoubtedly be a great year for a band on the leading edge of the festival circuit.
Foster the People: