The lineup for this year’s Buzz Beach Ball seemed a little deflated but looking back in comparison to previous years, I guess it’s what I would expect. The “headliner” of the evening was Sublime with Rome, although, judging by the crowd, you wouldn’t have thought that. After Foster the People’s stage exit, just prior to Sublime, about two-thirds of the Live Strong Park’s crowd left too. This is the second year the Buzz has hosted a Beach Ball show at this event. The arena is nice and allows for plenty of room to move around and find food, drink and bathrooms, however, they still weren’t able to fill the stadium. Once again, the pristine grass of the field was protected with floor blocks lain down for patrons to walk on. Although, for some reason, the puzzle pieces didn’t fit together quite as well as last year. There were multiple spots in the field where the blocks were bunched up together and off the ground, making it a trip hazard for all who walked by. Their not so genius solution was to lay rugs over these spots and put pieces of bright-colored tape across the humps in the ground. Yeah, that doesn’t help when you are walking amongst hundreds of people and can’t see the ground you are about to step on. There were a few people who almost bit it yesterday because of these floor problems. They need to rectify this problem before hosting any more events at this stadium.
One more gripe before I move on: video screens. It would have been awesome to have video feed on the screens that are displayed all over the stadium. When I go into the inside areas for a drink and see seventeen televisions all around only displaying a screen saver image of Buzz Beach Ball, it got me a little perturbed. Why not have live video feed of the show broadcasted on the hundreds of TVs around the stadium? When I went inside to use a restroom, purchase a drink or just sit in the air conditioning for a bit, I had no concept of what was going on outside. Buzz, put a few dollars into visuals for your paying customers and give them video screens. It would have also been nice to have video screens on the sides of the stage for the crowds that sat far from the stage. However, I digress, one thing the Buzz corrected this year was the bottle-necking situations of the stairs. They opened up the top-level to let people walk around the entire stadium, instead of being confined to one half like last year. This allowed people to come and go from the field on either side and prevented the huge bottlenecks that last year had.
There were many bands that played the show yesterday, but only a few stuck out as mentionable. The Joy Formidable was the first band of the day that really came out ready to fully entertain. The trio from Wales headlined the second stage and had every ear in the stadium at full attention. Lead singer Ritzy Bryan frequently flipped off the crowd, in a loving manner, while staring down the patrons with her wild eyes. The trio were very cohesive and in tune with each other’s moves. When one started to move more or dance a bit, another would get more pumped to be on stage as well. Rhydian Dafydd, who plays bass and provides back up vocals was spot on with Ritzy in harmony and attitude. The crowd became quite fervent as their set went on. No one seemed to mind that their set was playing in the last hours of the blistering sun before it settled past the top of the stadium. The Joy Formidable went out with a bang, literally. They appropriately trashed the stage as they were the last to use the second stage for the day. Drum sets were thrown to the ground, stage decorations had holes thrust upon them and The Joy Formidable left the stage as seemingly angry as they approached it. It was a great set.
Next I just want to mention The Shins. I won’t talk about them too long for fear of putting the reader to sleep. I love The Shins, I think it’s safe to say that many do. However, listening to The Shins in your car and seeing them live are two different animals. This is my second time seeing them live and I always like to give a band a second chance if I didn’t like their performance live the first time. Well, not much has changed from the first time I saw them live. The members came out on stage, said nothing to the crowd and began to move through the motions of playing their songs. It was as if I was watching robot replicas come out and play these songs. Sure, the tunes were near perfect to what you hear on the album, but looking in the faces of the band you would have thought they all just had fresh botox injections. Not one expression could be found on that stage. Not to be outdone by the band, the crowd displayed just as many subdued expressions. In fact, during the hour-long set of The Shins, Twitter started popping up with all the sleeping fans located in the crowd. I don’t blame them, full day of sun exposure, drinking and having just had their faces melted by The Joy Formidable, it’s understandable that this music and stage presence was putting everyone to sleep.
Clearly, Foster the People stole the show and were the true headliners of the night. The stadium was at its most full during their set and the screams of the ladies in the crowd almost unbearable. The band had about an hour to play and with only one album under their belt, they had plenty of time to jam between songs. They opened with “Miss You”, which I’ll be honest is my favorite song of theirs. It was a great way to start their set and wake everyone up to what was on stage, which was filled with instruments and beautiful men, what was not to love? Their eclectic sound tends to span genres and generations, although the crowd was heavily populated with the high school age. This was the third time I had seen Foster live. I have loved every performance they have given. I was impressed with their stage presence on the first one, even though they still seemed shy and timid. Their second performance proved they have heart in what they do and this third performance showcased that they had fully come into their own. It was as if someone whispered into Mark Foster’s ear before the show, “You do realize that 98% of the crowd thinks you’re hot?” and from there he just opened up. He came out on stage with all these new dance moves and knew exactly how to bait the crowd with opening his jacket like a strip tease.
Another couple of songs that really stuck out last night were “Don’t Stop” and “Warrant”. They really got into them themselves with jumping all over the stage, interacting with each other, shaking maracas like it would save the world and finally just throwing them out into the crowd. However, the highlight of the night and what truly surprised me, was when they ended their set with their hit single, “Pumped Up Kicks”. Now this song has been played a thousand times and I love their album Torches, but I tend to find myself skipping that song more because it’s been played out so much. I was certainly surprised to see what the band had done with the song live. It seems that they may have played their fair share of that song too and wanted to pump it up a bit, pun intended. The normal four-minute song had turned into at least ten minutes of dancing, jamming, and marching band tributes. The song started off like normal but after the chorus had repeated itself they changed it up. It suddenly turned into an electronic version of itself for a couple of 8 counts. Then the song would go back to normal only to have it change again to a more industrial sounding version of itself. They managed to take a very pop song and make it very heavy live. Finally, when the final chorus was to be played out by a couple of orchestral instruments on stage, there was a pause in the song so the entire marching band of KU could line up in front of the stage to play the final chorus for us in harmony. It was kind of brilliant. There were certainly a few people in the crowd that were not fans of the “Rock Chalk Jay Hawk” comment from Mark Foster, but then he doesn’t know that border wars never end for us here in Missouri and Kansas. I thought it was a very personal touch to a very big show from Foster the People and something to remember.
Photos and story by Angela Davis
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