The day had finally come! I cleared as much of the calendar as I could to make sure I would be in the building by the time Foster the People hit the stage at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre. Things always seem like they’re gonna go as planned at 9:00 AM, but as I’ve learned and ultimately accepted with this gig, that will all change from organized to completely off the rails in a matter of minutes. Although I had mentally reserved this day for Foster the People and a chance meeting with Cults, opportunity knocked in the form of an interview with Roger Daltrey, yes that Roger Daltrey from that band The Who.
Plenty of time to prepare! Not really, but we dove in like we always do and made our way down to meet Roger in the city. So, this guys is pretty famous and all, but honestly one of the nicest and most gracious rock stars on the planet. The Who have been Shure endorsers since 1968, and after all these years Roger is still just as appreciative for his SM58 from Shure. It really was a cool rock star moment, but you’ll have to stay tuned for the interview. We’ll keep you posted…
To get things back on track, I resumed plans for my original destination and made my way down to the Riviera Theatre in Chicago. It was about 3:30 PM and there was already a line beginning to form in front of the venue. Tonight’s show with Foster the People and Cults was sold out at the neighboring Vic Theatre, so the show was moved to a larger venue and ultimately sold out again. Making my way through the stage door, I caught Foster completing sound check and making some last minute tweaks. I met the guys once they were finished up and they were very grateful for the support Shure has given them since day one. Our meeting was brief, as the guys were called into a last minute conference regarding their upcoming performance on SNL… possibly to discuss where and when Kenny G would fit into the end of “Houdini” on the broadcast?
Cults was now beginning to set up and begin their sound check, and I had the chance to speak with their production manager and monitor engineer, Jeff Neuberger, who is a big fan of Shure. We spoke about a few options for lead singer Madeline and a few key mic choices for the guitar cabs on stage. The band is already using Shure on pretty much anything that produces a sound, but I’ve got a few things for Jeff and Cults to try that will ultimately make their lives and sound that much better.
As I mentioned before, this was a sold out show, and by the time the first band, Reptar (pretty solid by the way!) hit the stage, every square inch of the place had reached capacity. Cults came on, just as the news that Steve Jobs had passed came over our respective mobile devices. For a moment there, as I stared out onto the stage at the five MacBooks that are so vital to Foster the People’s set up, I thought about what an impact Mr. Jobs has made on this music industry we all love so dearly. Thanks Steve.
Cults (Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin), along with their touring band of three additional members, delivered all of the choice cuts from their self-titled debut, and honestly, they’re all pretty choice cuts. The first two bands definitely got things warmed up, but the crowd was at a fever pitch in the moments right before Foster the People took the stage.
Just like that, Mark Pontius, Cubbie Fink and the other two members of their touring band hit the stage and ripped into “Houdini” with its Billy Squier-esque drum beat… the place erupted. I think the roof blew off the place when Mark Foster hit the stage and delivered the driving piano melody and first lyrics of the song. Aside from drummer Pontius, the band used up every bit of the stage to wander from station to station adding key elements of sound to every song from their smash hit Torches. By the fourth song, I was tired for them, these guys definitely gave it everything they had and somehow kept going. Their rapid pace and fierce delivery accompanied by one of the most dizzying light shows I’ve ever seen, made for one hell of a Wednesday evening at the Riviera.
For an encore, Mark Foster performed a song entitled “Ruby” as a piano solo, but was ultimately joined by the rest of the band to finish up the track and deliver their closer for the evening, their infectious hit, “Pumped Up Kicks.” As the song neared completion, Foster was joined by opening band Reptar, armed with cow bells and shakers to turn the song into an extended remix reminiscent of a warehouse rave.
To my friends that couldn’t make it, but wanted the highlights… it was hard to tell them about this show without having a big smile on my face. Maybe next time…