The odd (at second glance) pairing of Swedish singer-songwriter Lykke Li’s melancholia and LA’s eager-to-please, Teen Choice Award-winning band, Foster the People, drew a near sold-out, young, primarily female crowd on a perfect Wednesday summer night at Red Rocks. Lykke’s Li’s Pity Party was mismatched with a “Let’s Party” act.
Other than festivals, Denver was the only city on the Lykke Li tour where she didn’t headline (Until a Sept. 25 return date at the Ogden was just announced). Turning a normal 75-minute set into a 55-minute set, she still pulled out all the stops. The singer brought all the heart-wrenching Scandinavian heartbreak from her recent albums (“Sadness Is A Blessing” and a powerful, poignant “No Rest For The Wicked”) and a few of her earlier dance-pop hits, like “Dance, Dance, Dance” and “Little Bit.”
Backed by a low frequency-loving and all dressed in black (like LL), five-piece band (keyboards, guitars/bass, monster drums, lots of background vocals), she revved up the kids at the front of the stage that she’d encouraged to come down and dance early on in her set. She was happy, talkative between songs and danced like a whirling dervish dance throughout.
From start-to-finish, it was well-assembled songs, sung by an artist with a clear musical vision (and first-rate live vocal chops) ready to conquer America; although maybe not a crowd who seemingly came to hear Foster the People play one song.
Lead singer, guitarist Mark Foster is clearly the star of Foster the People. The band was solid and played the material they had, quite well. Still, to me, FTP’s best songs sounded like some far more original band’s weaker songs. Good, just not anything you’d wanna rush back to hear.
The crowd “woo’d” at the appropriate parts of most of Foster the People’s glossy, slick, overproduced-to-please songs. But by the 40-minute mark, some attention spans were being stretched. Many of the crowd, who earlier on, seemed to be saving their energy during Lykke Li’s set, were evidently saving it for “Pumped Up Kicks.”
After a heartfelt “We remember where we were at back then, playing Red Rocks two years ago during the Colorado fires” Thank You address to the crowd (Foster didn’t talk much to the audience) they encored shortly after with, what else?
Mike Long is a Longmont-based writer and comedian and a regular contributor to Reverb.
Lisa Higginbotham is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.