Sunday, July 8, 2012 | 3:17 p.m.
If given the choice, Foster the People would probably return to the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas every four months for the rest of their career. Saturday night’s performance at Boulevard Pool marked their fourth performance at the resort in less than two years, and the sold-out concert dispelled any notion that their most recent appearance could be considered overkill.
Given the band’s relative ubiquity in Las Vegas since debuting at Book & Stage in March 2011, there were some in the crowd who believed that the band’s limited oeuvre (just one 10-track album, plus a few bonus cuts) was growing a bit stale. But the majority of the audience didn’t seem to mind, singing along to their name-making hit “Pumped Up Kicks” and greeting the crescendos of “Broken Jaw” and “Call It What You Want” with rapturous applause.
Arriving onstage shortly after 10:30 p.m., the Los Angeles indie pop trio -- singer Mark Foster, bassist Cubbie Fink and drummer Mark Pontius, plus touring musicians Sean Cimino and Isom Innis -- immediately got to work on a percussion-and-synth-heavy set that relied heavily on “Torches,” their lone album released last May.
Movement is a key component in every Foster the People show, and when he was not bounding across the stage or breaking out some slick dance moves, Foster rotated among keyboards, guitar and a floor tom with a pair of cowbells attached. During “Call It What You Want,” he stood in front of Pontius and smashed cymbals along with the drummer; at the end of set closer “Helena Beat,” he side-glided across the entire length of the stage. (“Moves Like Jagger”? More like “Moves Like Foster.”)
A long solo piano intro preceded fan favorite “Warrant,” which went unplayed during the band’s Boulevard Pool appearance in October, and opening act Kimbra joined in on “Warrior,” a collaboration between the New Zealand-born singer and opening act, Foster and DJ A-Trak, which found the stage teeming with 10 participants from both bands.
A bizarre moment occurred during the encore when Foster returned to his keyboard and the unmistakable piano intro of Bruce Hornsby’s “The Way It Is” began playing over the P.A. The crowd roared its approval, and Pontius even played along on drums for a brief moment before the song cut off, with Pontius and Foster embracing over an inside joke that left the crowd on the outside.
“Man, I’ve heard of tour pranks,” Foster said, “but I’ve never heard of a band that tour pranked themselves.”
While a romp through the ’80s classic (or even the Tupac remake) would have been just the kind of curveball fans wanted from the mostly familiar set list, the band opted instead to pull out its ace in the hole, the multiplatinum-selling “Pumped Up Kicks.” A mostly perfunctory performance of their hit was enlivened by giant inflatable characters from the “Torches” album cover on both sides of the stage and a burst of confetti toward the end of the song.
With the pool rocking and dozens of glow wands waving before him, Foster stood at the edge of the crowd and pumped his microphone in the air several times, one last rock star gesture before the band retreats to life off the road. When they return, Las Vegas -- and the Cosmopolitan -- will no doubt be waiting for them.
Saturday night’s set list: “Miss You,” “Life on the Nickel,” “Houdini,” “Broken Jaw,” “I Would Do Anything for You,” “Waste,” “Love,” “Call It What You Want,” “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls),” “Warrant,” “Warrior” (featuring Kimbra) and “Helena Beat.” Encore: “Pumped Up Kicks.”
Jack Houston is editor of Las Vegas Magazine.