June 23, 2013


Breaking Down Foster the People’s Firefly Setlist

Theo Wargo/Getty Images
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

A main topic of discussion at Firefly Music Festival revolved around whether or not Foster the People deserved their headlining slot on day three of the fest. 

Those opposed meant no disrespect. There's no denying the band is both talented and popular. But the first two days' headliners the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers—both Rock and Roll Hall of Famers—while FTP have released one album (over two years old now) and have played a mere three shows all year. 

Meanwhile, two acts relegated to slots earlier in the day are enjoying career peaks: last month Vampire Weekend's latest record Modern Vampires of the City topped the Billboard 200 while Passion Pit's recent tour headlined Madison Square Garden. It seemed a bit… off.

As if sensing a need to rise to the occasion, Foster the People transformed themselves into an arena band on Sunday night. They bulked up their lineup with two extra musicians and three female singers for the set. They also incorporated elaborate visuals including background projections and a dance troupe sporting Eyes Wide Shut-style masks.

Still, how did the band fill their 90-minute slot with just 13 officially-released tracks? Allow us to deconstruct the band's headlining set, song by song.

Theo Wargo/Getty Images
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

1. "Helena Beat": FTP kick off their set with the same song as their debut LP Torches begins. Smart move to start with their second-biggest hit to provide the audience an immediate jolt of recognition.

2. "Life on the Nickel": Another high-energy banger. One of their most popular live songs.

3. "Level Up" (title unconfirmed): The first of the unreleased new songs, which comes after frontman Mark Foster tells the crowd the band has "some new things to show you." It's heavier than most of the Torches material, with a more prominent focus on electric guitar than synths. 

4. "Call It What You Want": One of their lesser hits, the performance was used as the soundtrack for an impressive light display and the aforementioned masked dancers.

5. "Nevermind" (title unconfirmed): A second new song. The energy has dropped from its early peak, but fans are thus far welcoming the new material. 

6. "Waste": Slower than the album version with a piano intro and an extended instrumental bridge that seems partly due to some technical difficulties with Foster's guitar.  It may be time for a hit soon.

7. "I Would Do Anything for You": Another Torches album cut?It's definitely time for a hit.

8. "Don't Stop": That's more like it! The song features heavier drums, guitar and deeper vocals than the album version, but everyone still joins in to sing the "Yeah yeahs" before each chorus.

9. "Feels Like Coming of Age" (title unconfirmed): The third new cut, but the first song of the night to completely abandon keyboards.  The band's new material is definitely moving away from dance pop to more straightforward rock.

10. "Houdini": It's getting toward the end of the set, so it's time to bring out their biggest tracks. Also two trumpet players (one of whom is Spender Ludwig of Capital Cities) to act as the brass section.

11. "Miss You": Finishing the main set with a fan favorite from Torches. White spotlights scour the audience, one brave soul begins to crowd-surf.

Encore Break

12. "Fire Escape": Easing back into the music, Foster performs this new song alone with an acoustic guitar. He precedes it with a lengthy. and fairly uninteresting, story about living in a dilapidated old hotel in Los Angeles and how the building’s fire escape inspired this song. Fans approve by clapping along, albeit off-beat.

13. "Pumped Up Kicks": Because really, what else could they possibly end with?