Sacred Hearts Club, the title of Foster the People’s third album, has begun to take on new meaning with each subsequent show the band plays in support of the record. Cutting the proverbial rug last night at the Observatory in Santa Ana, Mark Foster and his band of synth-peddling romantics have clearly breathed into existence the titular club for fans to find some sort of haven in. It moves with them, across the country packed into their chests, hands, and eyes; into containers like the very instruments they play to bring it to life. It’s an inspired piece of mythology and is the logical outcome of the band’s rejection, or at least questioning, of the hedonism that tends to be glorified in western pop-culture. Whether as an escape or simply a place with which to find solace, the ”Sacred Hearts Club” has grown to with every new show into something wholly tangible.
Live, Foster imbues no small amount of passion to his performance; from the stage he mingles existential angst and altruism, delivering every piercing cry with a fiery gusto. Between cascading synth melodies and giddy electronica, the band veils every hard truth and social commentary behind a new sublime texture. Even the more dense lyricism of Torches and Supermodel roll delightfully off the tongue, their potently raw messages on mental illness and self-harm lent an almost paradoxical melancholy by the jumpy-melodics of their synth overtures. As these fill the venue, drenching it in all the colors of Foster’s erratic misgivings and sincere love, it’s hard not to feel a sense of camaraderie via the ”Sacred Hearts Club.” And more so, as their third album lends a new element to their live show by dipping it in the darkly lit atmospheres of its mythologized location, with songs like “Pay the Man” and “Doing It for the Money” burning like a neon light in the darkness. As the living embodiment of that titular club, the Observatory was one bathed in beams of light and glowing hearts as the band unleashed one radiant song after another. Here, the intimacy was an oversaturated collection of faces, each caught in a different state of bliss and wonder, shaking from the darkness as they were momentarily illuminated by the stage lights.
For Foster himself and his band, there’s little that they could’ve done to misstep. One of the premiere synth-pop bands since their debut, introspective and unapologetic attempt to find profundity in their music is borderline transcendent. Wielding the gaudy abstracts of universal truth as well as such simple notions of friendship in “I Love My Friends,” the group never fails to paint the walls in their delirious but honest sentiments. Glowing from an array of lights positioned around him, Foster splits the difference between something ethereal and painfully human; the audience reaching, grasping for a meaning and reassurance with only his words slipping through their fingers.
Words & Photography: Steven Ward