If Motown was injected with a dose of HGH, Fitz and the Tantrums is what you would get. A Motown whose sound bites a little harder, has a backbeat which swings more aggressively, and lyrically, waxes substantially darker. They are the band I put on when I want to dance around my house in a tank top and underwear. A musical cross-pollination of sorts, Fitz and The Tantrums (made up of Michael Fitzpatrick, Noelle Scaggs, James King, Joseph Karnes, Jeremy Ruzumna, and John Wicks) would be seated at the same high school lunch table as Mark Ronson and the late, great Ms. Amy Winehouse.
The Hollywood Bowl marked group’s largest non-festival show to date opening for Ben Harper, as they have made a sizable footprint this year with their incredible showmanship, hard work, and exhaustive touring. Fitz and The Tantrums are a throwback to be sure; and not just because they are heavily influenced by R&B greats of ‘60s but because they are a band that exude a sincerity and joy in their performance that is rarely seen today among the landscape of Top 40 talking heads. They are playful, but don’t be mistaken, they do not fuck around. You are hard-pressed today to find another band with as much personality and charisma – a kind that transcends their record, and permeates both the stage and audience. To borrow from the late Donna Summer, Fitz and all the Tantrums work hard for their money.
Amidst an unfamiliar audience, the band – fronted by duo Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs – not only brought the Hollywood Bowl audience to their feet, but had them dancing and singing in the aisles by the second song of the set. Just as any fan would command nothing less than perfection from the band they love, Fitz and the Tantrums equally demands the most out of their audiences. They can yell at this ‘bitch’ to sing louder anytime. To be honest, watching these guys perform makes me tired…it also puts a ridiculous, child-like grin on my face too. But it is truly exhausting and wondrous to see how invested this group is in their performance and ensuring the audience has as much fun watching, as they do performing. Seriously, please, please, please, somebody hand Michael Fitzpatrick a freakin’ cape.
Aesthetically speaking, Fitzpatrick is the rock n’ roll love child of David Bowie and Annie Lennox. It is only fitting then that he would be the one to bridge the gap between his band’s signature soulful sound, and ‘80s dance music. After opening with album mainstays, mid-set, the band launched into their cover of The Eurythmics Sweet Dreams. Propelled by a down and dirty organ, Fitz’s Sweet Dreams is a soul-infused, devilishly syncopated version of the song that could blow the roof off of the Motown Mansion. The re-imagined arrangement of this song is a clear testament to the group’s musical fluency and crystal-clear identity. In fact, they were so sensationally tight on Sunday night that nary a strand of Fitzpatrick’s white-streaked coif dared flutter out of place.
In their matching electric coral-colored ensembles, Fitzpatrick and Scaggs took us through an emotional whirlwind during the band’s set: during Don’t Gotta Work it Out the two went head to head, both literally and in a vocal showdown, then they whisked us to the lively yet longing new track 6 AM with a refrain that is still looping in my head, and on to the mercurial and revenge-filled News 4 U. It would be easy to give into the gimmick behind a band like Fitz and The Tantrums with their new wave hair, eccentric outfits, and definitive sound, but the truth is there is such an earnestness behind them you cannot help but love every minute of it.
New Album Out This Fall.
1. Don’t Gotta Work It Out
2.Winds of Change
3. Breakin’ the Chains of Love
4. 6 AM
6. Sweet Dreams
7. News 4 U
And if you’d like more of me, check out