Fitz and The Tantrums brought their funky mix of pop, soul and dance music to a sold-out Riveria Theater and in doing so turned up the temperature of late February Chicago.
The 6-piece band based out of Los Angeles, led by lead singer Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick, has toured relentlessly the past 11 years and have definitely honed their skills over that time. The show was hyper-energetic, fully of catchy upbeat songs that got everyone moving. They are a band that gets the crowd to act like they’re at a rave: dancing, waving their arms, sweating, jumping and totally losing their minds. The vibe was so infectious and lively it could make a sick person get up and dance – which could prove helpful if the Corona virus becomes an epidemic (get the CDC on the phone!).
Much of the band’s appeal comes from the dynamic between Fitzpatrick and co-front(wo)man Noelle Scaggs, a powerhouse singer and a live wire. Both singers have unbelievable pipes that were truly impressive on each and every song.
When their voices are taken together, however, the total is more than the sum of their parts. Their voices work both with and against each other’s: sometimes harmonizing perfectly together, sometimes taking the song in beautifully different ways. It’s a chemistry that goes beyond words. Scaggs not only sings, but also plays hype woman: pumping up the crowd and keeping the engine red hot. She also never stopped moving – dancing like the stage was on fire.
The absolute best thing about Fitz and The Tantrums are the songs. Over four albums they have so many hits that during the show there is never a clunker in the set list. Dynamic tunes like “Fools Gold,” “Roll Up,” and “Complicated,” just kept coming. They perfectly weaved in their older hits like “Moneygrabber” with songs from their latest album like, “I Need Help.” Just when the audience thinks the energy can’t go any higher, the band just keeps the accelerator on the floorboards.
James King is the Tantrums utility man, deftly taking turns playing the flute, keyboards, percussion, guitar, a really-big saxophone, a medium-sized saxophone and even a teeny-tiny saxophone. He stole the spotlight from Scaggs and Fitzpatrick, literally, by stepping in front of the two singers to unleash a killer sax solo. Half-way through, Fitz told him to play higher and then higher still. When King couldn’t go any higher, Fitz gave him a smaller soprano saxophone to properly hit the high notes.
It was just that kind of show: high energy, non-stop fun. To end the show Fitz and The Tantrums played their two biggest hits: “Handclap” and “The Walker” while smoke cannons fired onstage and confetti was blasted into the crowd. It was impossible not to have a blast at this show.
Photos by K. Joseph Fotos. Full Gallery from the show here