Foster The People & The Kooks: New York, NY, May 30, 2012
Summer Concert Series
Rumsey Playfield, Central Park
New York, NY
May 30, 2012
Foster The People, the Grammy-nominated Indie-pop band, provided two prominent songs in the Soundtrack to Summer 2011: "Pumped Up Kicks" (an '80s synth-meets-'60s psych pop, catchy, danceable and upbeat yet sinister song about a Columbine-like massacre) and "Don't Stop (Color The Walls)." Its "Pumped Up Kicks" also won a 2012 Billboard Music Award for Top Rock Song.
The Kooks has been called this decade's answer to the Kinks' quirky English popeven naming Konk (Astralwerks/Virgin, 2008) after Kinks singer/songwriter Ray Davies' studiothat, along with early Police and Squeeze, was popular from the late '60s through the '90s. The Kooks can also be described as a kind of a post-modern British Invasion band with an almost New Wave purview.
On Wednesday, May 30, 2012 the two bands headlined the Summer Concert Series at Central Park's Rumsey Playfield. The Kooks (Luke Pritchard on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, lead guitarist Hugh Harris, drummer Paul Garred and bassist Peter Denton) opened with an exhilarating set featuring its classics "Always Where I Need to Be," "Sofa Song," "Matchbox," "Ooh La" and "Shine On," along with tracks from Junk of the Heart (Astralwerks, 2010) including "Is It Me," "Runaway" and "How'd You Like That." The highlight of the set was the closing "Junk of The Heart (Happy)," which featured soaring vocals and simple yet positive lyrics:
"I wanna make you happy,
I wanna make you feel alive,
Let me make you happy,
I wanna make you feel alive at night,
I wanna make you happy
If you're a good girl tonight.
The Kooks' encore was its biggest hit and most well-known song, "Naïve"; it was met with the audience's loudest cheers and most frenzied reaction. The performancean equal mix of tracks from each of the band's three CDswas centered on everything Brit-pop is and should be: smart lyrics, sing-along choruses, tasty, economical guitar riffs and, above all else, fun.
After a 45-minute intermission, Foster The People took the stage. Comprised of Mark Foster (vocals, keyboards, piano, synthesizers, guitar, programming, percussion), Cubbie Fink (bass and backing vocals) and Mark Pontius (drums, extra percussion), the band played its entire debut, Torches (Columbia/Startime, 2011), as well as "Lovely Motherfucker," the synth-driven Record Store Day releases "Broken Jaw" and "Love," and "Warrior," which featured a guest appearance by Kimbra (of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know" fame). Unfortunately, the band's first four songs"Miss You," "Life on the Nickel," "Helena Beat" and "Broken Jaw"were plagued by less-than-stellar sound. Thankfully the muddy sound cleared up for the ballad "I Would Do Anything for You."
Highlights included "Don't Stop (Color The Walls)," the hypnotic disco beat-driven "Call It What You Want," the stomping dance floor-meets-videogame thump of "Houdini" and, of course, "Pumped Up Kicks," featuring a remixed outro and the bone-chilling lyrics:
"All the other kids with the pumped up kicks,
You better run, better run, outrun my gun.
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks,
You better run, better run, faster than my bullet."
As soon as the song ended, the crowd flooded out of the play field area, into Central Park and out onto Fifth Avenue and East 72nd Street.
All Photos: Christine Connallon