Coachella 2011: Ellie Goulding & Foster the People, for your dancing or relaxing pleasure
Foster the People don't even have a full-length album out yet, but it's safe to say that the world has caught on. The band was about 20 minutes late to its date at Coachella's Gobi tent, the smallest of the three covered stages, and no one was budging. There were a few boos, of course, and fans started looking at their Coachella schedules, knowing that Duran Duran would be starting over on the main stage just a few minutes after the technicality difficulties were solved.
Yet once the act, now a five-piece in its live incarnation and centered around lead singer/keyboardist Mark Foster, finally took the stage, they pulled a gutsy move. Straight into a known song -- a track from an earlier released EP, perhaps -- it was not, as instead the band went direct to something atmospheric.
Foster the People are skilled in the art of the slow build. The act unveiled one of its new songs, which fans have been calling "Got to Get Away," and keyboards led to a torrent of tom-tom drumming and all of it comes and goes thought the song. It's a rock 'n' dance song as a grand tease.
\ The Coachella set may not have been the band's strongest, as there were some sound issues that seemed to cut in and out when not expected, but one couldn't help feel that the band has arrived.
After all, few acts without an album out can say, "This song needs no introduction," and get a roar of applause and a crowd singing every word of "Pumped Up Kicks." Oh, and no one left for Duran Duran, as Foster's tent stayed packed to the hilt.
Earlier, Ellie Goulding presented a different take on how to meld electronics, laid-back grooves and the occasional flirt with something more aggressive. I saw Goulding last month at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, and was impressed, but the Goulding at Coachella at times seemed like a different artist.
In Austin, Goulding was flanked only by two keyboardists and one drummer. Here, she had a similar set-up, but also took out an acoustic guitar ("Guns and Horses") and went all theatrical in covering Elton John's "Your Song." Vocally, Goulding's sweet, refined and a pro -- her John cover felt like it could have been a Grammy tribute to the artist, with Goulding kneeling or holding her hand to the heavens at all the right spots.
Yet listen to Goulding's hit singles, and one will hear a more digitally-affected artist. Such was the side she strutted at SXSW, taking moments away from dancing only to pound a bass drum. Here, it was more Madonna's "Bedtime Story," at least until she launched into "Starry Eyed" and morphed into a should-be dance-pop star.
Photo: Ellie Goulding performs on Sunday at Coachella. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times