Fitz And The Tantrums - 07/27/2016 at Marquee Theatre
A hot, mid-summer's Wednesday night at Marquee Theatre was the place, and the (possible) best show of the summer was the event. Arizona's own Zella Day and Fitz & The Tantrums took hump day by its reigns and showed us all it's still worth it to go out on a weekday night (and I only saw one person playing Pokemon Go.)
With only two artists on the bill, this was a later show for Marquee, starting at 8. The room was filled from the beginning, and as soon as the lights turned off the crowd erupted with excitement. Day walked out full smile, after her band had already taken point on stage. She completely owned the crowd and the stage, almost like a dark mirror of Florence (hence the black dress and flowing dark robe.) Arming herself with a tambourine by the third song, and bringing out the huge white Gretsch hollow body by the next, she made it very apparent she wasn't just up there to sing behind a microphone. During "1965," she ditched the guitar and explored the stage once again, letting the audience take part in the chorus as well. Halfway through her set, she snuck in a new song, that started out with choral "oohs" and "aaahs" like something you would hear supporting your favorite gospel songs in Sunday school. Without a moment to spare, the drums transition into something very familiar... and the guitar finally kicks in with the opening riff to "Rihannon" by Fleetwood Mac. Not that the crowd needed to liven up, but the band made the cover sound so full and powerful, and the way she channeled Stevie Nicks perfectly was electrifying. It was at this point, a friend leaned over and said, "She's got so much energy, I forget she's just the opener!" I couldn't agree more. Although napping in the sun listening to her play at Coachella was one of my favorite moments, tonight's show was a lot more intimate and (yes, I'll say it again) electrifying.
The anticipation of Fitz & The Tantrums was high for me, having been staring at their lighting set up the whole show behind Zella Day. Never having a reason (or desire) for a quiet, dramatic entrance, they jumped right in with "Get Right Back," a track from their newest, self titled album. The lights then set a "Boogie Nights" mood for their third song, picked from their debut album and also my personal favorite, "Don't Gotta Work it Out." (And yes I was singing along in the photo pit, not sure if that is frowned upon but I couldn't help it.) Taking a break and looking over the filled room of their cheering fans, lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick had to question himself if it was really a Wednesday night. Another dip into the archives, "Out Of My League" was next and the crowd never stopped moving. The relationship between Fitz and the crowd was evident as Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs shaped hearts in the air and the entire crowd follows. "Can we raise the temperature in here to match what it is outside?" Fitzpatrick asked during the transition into another new song, "Run It." The song begins with piano and Fitzpatrick only... not your typical Fitz song. Maybe it was because of subtle EDM beat behind it, but if Rihanna was singing this song with few more laser beam sounds and a gradually increasing snare drum, I wouldn't be surprised if it was produced by the likes of David Guetta or Calvin Harris.
Before starting "Breaking The Chains Of Love," the disclaimer "We're going to see who are the dancers are in the crowd tonight" was given, and the crowd turned into a wild sea of hands. These old songs remind me of how much I loved the first album... I will definitely be revisiting that repeatedly over the next week. There's no denying they have changed the sound of their music over the past 2 albums, but the songwriting is the same. This is an important and difficult task for most bands... mixing it up a bit and not letting your fans get bored, but keeping the integrity of what you started with.
Catching the lyrics of another song from their latest record, "Complicated," it's obviously a sexual song, and of course the dance moves followed suit. Their music is great, but the icing on the cake from a band like Fitz is the choreography. They never missed a beat, and having the visuals along with the music tells a story within itself. Speaking of visuals, the lights on this tour were great. Able to change and adapt to set the mood for each song, not to mention the light up drum set. A few times the keys player, James King took the third front man position whenever he brought out the sax.
The only disappointment of the night came on the song "Moneygrabber." This song rings close to home for me because this was my first exposure to the band. Clicking through music apps late at night, all the sudden I was taken by the red and blue 3D-ish colors on my TV. I watched, I listened, and immediately became a huge fan. For some reason tonight it sounded a little hollow, I'm not sure what was missing. Maybe it was just one of those, "We've played this song so many times I'm sick of it now," but everything I believe in doesn't want me to think that is the case.
Somehow, the band had enough energy to come back out for not one, but three more songs for an encore. They all returned to the stage and began again with the first single from their latest release, "HandClap." Another crowd participation song and sticking with the ultimate theme of the band, clapping. Between the dancing and the clapping, There are going to be a lot of sore muscles tomorrow! Finishing up the encore, they promised to see us next time and sent us out with "6am" and "The Walker," along with a giant explosion of confetti. Aside from some ringing ears (for those like me not wearing the earplugs that are in my pocket) everyone here is going to sleep like a baby tonight. Speaking of babies, after the confetti an adorable baby showed up on stage and waved to the crowd, having no idea what was going on and not scared one bit.
Fitzpatrick expressed their gratefulness to the crowd several times, and said this was their biggest crowd they've had while visiting Arizona. This was my 5th time seeing them, the first time being a free show at CityScape in downtown Phoenix who knows how long ago. I have to mention, the last time they were here they played Crescent Ballroom, which is a show that I deeply regret not attending (lets just not mention how I missed Zella Day at Rebel Lounge a few months ago.) Thankfully this wasn't a complete disaster like the last time Fitz played Marquee for Summers End 2014, which ended up here with many festival goers not being able to attend.