Following a stale sophomore slump, Foster the People returned to full form in 2017, recapturing the indie-pop greatness of their debut with the release of Sacred Hearts Club. Their penultimate performance on Tuesday, July 10, at Champion’s Square, opening for emo-vets Paramore, did not disappoint either. Their svelte 50-minute set packed unforgettable hits “Pumped Up Kicks,” “Helena Beat,” and “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)" from their inaugural trailblazer Torches as well as new favorites, including show-closers “Sit Next to Me” and “Doing It For The Money.” An ill-conceived cover of the Ramone’s "Blitzkrieg Bop" would not have been such a noticeable stain on an otherwise spotless showcase had the band not already purged other choice cuts to squeeze into its tight-fitting secondary time slot. Still, Foster the People’s show surged with energy, the intensity of which pulsated through the audience all the way into the far-most fringes of the crowd.
Though I was late to familiarize myself with their most recent release After Laughter, I was intrigued to see what Paramore had up its sleeve. I wasn’t overly familiar with the band when I first caught them on Voodoo Fest’s main stage in 2014. I (along with most of the crowd, judging by their all-black-everything chic) was simply securing a spot for headliner Nine Inch Nails when the jubilant quartet—practically NIN’s musical antithesis—took the stage. Hard as it is to fathom, their mesmerizing stage presence—including Halloween costumes, acrobatics, and spot-on musicianship—flickered an affable light into the vast sea of Hot Topic tees. Slowly, heads began to nod and bodies began to sway. The audience was won over.
Yesterday’s performance was just as thrilling, if not more so, now that the band has the full home-team advantage of their fanbase. Paramore treated listeners to a litany of hits, including “Still Into You,” “That’s What You Get,” “CrushCrushCrush,” and “Ain’t It Fun.” The show mic dropped a number of zingers, including a cover of Drake’s “Passion Fruit,” plucking a member of the audience on stage to take over vocal duties for the finale of “Misery Business,” and inviting drummer Zac Farro to perform a single from his side project HalfNoise. Singer Halley Williams also shared a heartwarming story of how the band adopted a rescue dog from New Orleans after their first scheduled performance in our city was cancelled due to Hurricane Katrina.
While After Laughter’s updated New Wave-with-definite-hints-of-the-Talking Heads tracks certainly won me over, it is the band’s infectious positivity that truly sends you off with a smile on your face. Just as their 2014 show inspired me to go home and stream their then-popular eponymous LP, I’m now tuning in to After Laughter to help pass the time during my commute.