Attending (and enjoying) the Fitz and the Tantrums concert this past Friday was a bit of a fluke — a friend of mine was a fan, yet I ended up going alone among the masses of indie pop fans cramming into The Sylvee. With a few special songs I was particularly looking forward to, I entered the venue with limited expectations and a somewhat open mind.
The sold-out show was entertaining to say the least, and represented a sort of genre awakening for me. As I weaved and squeezed through the overexcited crowd, an older gentlemen approached me, asking about my opinions of Fitz and the genre more specifically.
I laughed. He looked confused. We talked.
Over the course of the next half hour or so, this man and I discussed music — decades old to brand-spanking-new — and I slowly began to realize that if this dude can enjoy this shiny genre of upbeat, happy and that mildly obnoxious twinkle of boy band glory, why shouldn’t I?
With this being said, opener Twin XL’s set was just as energetic as expected, with their endearing (and almost juvenile) positivity, balanced nicely with a generous dose of punk jam moments. Funky instrumentals and standout songs “Messy” and “Sunglasses” kept morale high throughout their performance, establishing a vigorously lively vibe before Fitz went on.
The six-piece that is Fitz and the Tantrums is brimming with talent — vocalist Noelle Scaggs is a goddamn showstopper, and saxophonist James King ensured he had adequate time to bask in the spotlight with his epiphany-worthy instrumental breaks.
Right off the bat with “Get Right Back” from their 2017 album, Fitz established that they aren’t just indie pop, but also can be grouped into a genre otherwise known as “neo-soul” — marked by its eclectic yet mellow tone.
Further channeling their electronica and funk roots came “Spark” from their breakout album More Than Just A Dream. The feel-good protest song was conducive to Fitz’s circuslike energy and movement, followed by the hip “Complicated.”
Fan favorite “Out of My League” was next, spoiling the audience with the much-anticipated nostalgic dance track that made them famous. New, bright bop “123456” and the older, yet still fresh “Break the Walls” were followed by “Maybe Yes” “Fool” and “OCD” — each transmitting very different atmospheres, each with their marked tinge of resilience and unashamed pep-in-their-step.
As easy as it would seem to get exhausted during this power group’s 21-song set, with each song exuding an additional degree of potency and zeal, the opposite is true. Fitz’s endurance and animation was infectious — even for us folks who would normally be gagged by such adamant eagerness.
Classic “6am” showcased Scaggs’ vocals in an utterly flattering way — her soulful power reverberated off the walls as she pounced across the stage, a bounce in her step as she paced to the beat.
The militant “Livin’ for the Weekend”, vulnerable anthem “I Need Help!” and stirring “Fools Gold” followed. “Roll Up” had the entire venue plunging their hands in the air, and “MoneyGrabber” offered up a little validation and satisfaction for long-time fans.
“Burn It Down” “I Just Wanna Shine” and “Hands Up” concluded the initial set, with the unsurprisingly chaotic “Hand Clap”, preachy “All The Feels”, and eternally well-loved alt hit “The Walker” as a climactic encore.
This concert, and conversations I had as a result, reiterated the importance for music lovers like myself to step outside of their comfort genre, and listen to something a bit different every once in awhile — just to keep things interesting.
While I may never attend a Fitz concert again (and may take a brief indie pop hiatus following that marathon of a show) the contagious passion and pep beaming from this group and their performance was certainly worth the zing.