Photo Credits © Erik kabik/ erikkabik.com
As we made our way into a packed Boulevard Pool on Saturday night, I caught sight of Kimbra starting her set. Someone must be using her to show off their couture, because a crinoline-draped white dress adorned with triangle-shaped colored glass isn’t exactly something you pick out yourself. The gold sequined top, the jet-black bangs with every hair perfectly in place—all worked together to transform the 22-year old solo artist into a larger than life pop star. I mean, when you happen to be featured on the number one song of the year so far, you might as well dress the part.
Kimbra’s music is like a more accessible Bjork mixed with bits of Prince and a sprinkling of Katy Perry. Her vocal chops were tight, and she used a loop effect pedal to create her own backing vocals. This is a bold move in a live situation, where an errant or off note gets amplified and repeated over and over. Her backing band was a cast of misfits, though tight as well. The guitar player was sweating his ass off wearing a red petticoat, and the drummer sported a high top fade that I haven’t seen since House Party 2. The instrumentation varied from an icy Nord Lead to a funky bass line that vaguely reminded me of something Flea would have thought up. A few noteworthy songs were, “Come Into My Head” and “Settle Down.” We should definitely expect to hear more from her as she eases into her twenties.
Mark Foster announced that they’ve “played over 300 shows in the past 15 months.” Not bad for a guy that was a struggling jingle writer three years ago. The aptly named Foster the People are an LA band at their best, accomplished musicians who are brazen enought to still be relevant. It’s crazy that they stinted the Book & Stage for free last year, and were now playing a sold out show. The Cosmopolitan show being the last stop of their tour supporting 2011′s Torches, they were in top form. At times, there were three of them playing various drums and percussion, all in-synch with each other. Foster, wearing a white jacket and gold lamé pants, moved easily from keyboard to the vocals of a man possessed on “Broken Jaw,” the fourth song in the set. Other notables were “I Would Do Anything For You,” “Call It What You Want,” and “Don’t Stop,” where Foster picked up a Fender Jaguar and got loose. Kimbra came back onstage toward the end of the set (in some fantastical tie-dyed hooded cape) to join Foster in their joint collaboration, “Warrior.” Ka-ching!
The beginning of the encore was lightened up by some piano and drum noodling that hilariously ended up being an impromptu 15-second cover of Bruce Hornsby’s “The Way It Is.” Foster laughed about them “pranking themselves” before giving the crowd the what they all came for. Given the high energy of the performance, I expected “Pumped Up Kicks” to be brimming with over-the-top satisfaction. What they delivered was a mostly by-the-numbers version, likely tired of “playing the hit” for the past two years. All said, I was impressed by the level they brought to their tour-capping show. Though I doubt they’ll be playing the Book & Stage soon, I’ll be excited to hear some new material when they do return.
ArtsVegas: Covering Las Vegas Art and culture since 2009.