The bittersweet smell of beer and weed permeated the air Friday night at the Santa Barbara Bowl. Fans of all ages packed in for the final night of Foster the People’s year-long tour in support of their sophomore album, Supermodels, which was also the final show of the Santa Barbara Bowl’s summer season. What better way to finish up a world-wide tour than with a flashy light show just in time for the holidays?
Once the band kicked into their first song, “Pseudologica Fantastica,” I started to understand why so many of my fellow concertgoers were high. Giant crystals protruded from the stage, pulsing and flashing different colors in time with the music. The stage setup looked like it was stolen straight from Elsa’s ice fortress in Frozen. The display and light show were incredible to watch; so much so that it nearly distracted from the musicians working within it.
But not quite.
The band’s six players were spread across the stage, and lead singer Mark Foster was determined to outshine the dazzling display of colors all by himself. “This is one of our last shows of the year, and I’m so glad it’s right here. This is one of my favorite venues in the country,” he gushed before starting into “Waste.” Foster leapt about the stage like a reindeer in heat, full of holiday spirit. During the song “Houdini,” four of the six members pounded on a single drum set. And the sound quality and mixing were excellent — just as good if not better than the album itself.
After a brief interlude of Technicolor crystals and the manufactured sound of wind rushing through a forest, the band played their hit single, “Pumped Up Kicks.” The entire crowd rose to their feet, cheering and clapping along with Foster, who looked just as excited as any fan in the Bowl. An elderly man near the front of the seats danced wildly throughout the song, and children whooped and cheered beside their parents.
For the encore, Foster took the stage alone, playing a heartfelt acoustic rendition of “Fire Escape.” Fans held (actual) lighters high in the air, the flames flicking about in the wind. Two women held one another in the darkness, dancing slowly until the lights faded out.