Fitz and the Tantrums have been around for a few years, but it’s only in the last year that I’ve been really hearing about them above the border. Out of Los Angeles, this neo soul/indie pop band has been picking up speed and fans everywhere they go. The story goes that vocalist Michael Fitzpatrick put together this group of musicians and booked a show within a week of their first rehearsal. From there, it seemed to be a string of opportunities popping up. After releasing their debut EP in 2009, they opened for Maroon 5 and The Specials (on two separate tours.) Their music’s been featured on HBO’s True Blood as well as Suits and Bones and now they are headlining tours. As the lineup was stacked at Danforth Music Hall on Sunday, this was a night that no doubt ended with a thousand tired feet and strained voices as everyone tried to keep up with the high energy of the three acts.
Kicking the night off was Holychild. A Los Angeles duo who describe their sound as “Brat Pop,” Holychild is upbeat and bubblegum-pop fused with attitude. Liz Nistico and Louie Diller started Holychild with the idea that they would execute everything thoroughly, no half-assing it, whether anyone liked what they did or not. In terms of production, videos, and quality, these guys are spot on. They have created their image wholly themselves and have attracted the right attention because of it. Their performance felt sugary-sweet with catchy hooks and an infectious beat that are perfect for a night of dancing and drinking daiquiris with your girlfriends. With Liz dancing all over the stage, it was hard not to sway along with her just a little.
After a quick changeover, Max Frost took the stage. Hailing from Austin, Texas, he came with a live band that is some fusion of soul, funk, rock, blues and alternative mashed together into this insane, toe-tapping, body shaking sound that had me completely smitten. His ability to draw from a multitude of genres and fuse them into this unique sound that deftly exudes each one throughout his songs is amazing. Some songs felt a little more blues/rock and roll/electronic, and some felt pure funk and soul. Despite the variety, he has sewn it all together into a flowing set that kept the audience on their toes throughout. As I surveyed the crowd, I noticed that he had everyone—right to the back of the room—dancing, clapping or swaying along; as the opener, I find that to be an impressive feat. He had everyone moving straight through a cover of Rick James’ Give It To Me Baby, with the synth creating the feel of a live horn section on stage. As the set came to a close, everyone was sufficiently warmed up for what was to come.
With a giant pulsing LED heart as their backdrop (the one on the front of the More Than Just A Dream album), Fitz and the Tantrums came out like a bang, starting off their set with “Get Away” and powering through hits from their two albums, as well as an intriguing and electric rendition of The Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This). Vocalists Michael and Noelle have a chemistry that really completes their live show. From their harmonies to their dance movies and the way they play off each other, they exude a playful presence that makes the show an incredible experience. What I think makes this band is that their music doesn’t ask for crowd participation, it demands it. They have insanely catchy beats paired with opportunities to sing along, rhythmic oohs and aahs and catchy hooks. At one point, Michael asked the audience to put away their phones and dance, exclaiming “Our shows are not for wallflowers!” The way the band moves on stage—jumping and dancing and screaming the words that you want to sing back to them—you cannot deny their request to shake your ass. If you were considering cancelling your gym membership, you could probably just follow Fitz around on tour and get fit in no time. The relationship they share with the crowd is why their following is growing every day. As a fan, there’s no better show than one where you feel like you’re all apart of the same experience. We are here with them, not just to see them.
Fitz and the Tantrums | Interview
Holychild | Interview
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Photos by Ashley Smith |