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Review: Fitz and The Tantrums performs indie-pop, Motown-infused music for frenzied crowd

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Andrew Todd-Smith / Lantern reporter

Andrew Todd-Smith / Lantern reporter

The Lifestyle Communities Pavilion roared with enthusiastic applause, and it did not stop once during the nearly three minutes that soulful indie-pop outfit, Fitz and The Tantrums, spent offstage before returning for a three-song encore.

It was just that kind of show.

The Los Angeles sextet performed their infectious brand of danceable, Motown-infused music for a frenzied crowd at the LC Pavilion’s indoor venue Tuesday night.

The opening act was the sultry and gifted Ivy Levan, backed by four masked musicians. Their no-nonsense vibe was akin to a darker No Doubt tempered by a sassy Duffy-esque groove.

Saints of Valory were up next, hailing from Austin, Texas. They were performing their first show since the release of their Possibilities EP earlier in the day. They captivated with soaring melodies and crisp guitar solos and sounded as if U2, The Killers and 30 Seconds To Mars had influenced them.

Fitz and The Tantrums played the Columbus show as part of an ongoing summer tour in support of their sophomore LP, “More Than Just a Dream,” released earlier this year.

For fan and concert attendee Cindy Waddle, 35, the show couldn’t come soon enough.

“A friend turned me onto them about a year and a half ago, and I’ve been a big fan ever since. I love retro music, throwback. I’ve absolutely been waiting for their show,” said Waddle from her front-row vantage point immediately before the Tantrums’ set began.

Playing eight songs from each of their full-length albums, Fitz and the Tantrums impressed with their stage presence. Unconventionally, the band has two co-lead singers, Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs, both of whom were key to the show being unforgettably electric.

Neither Fitzpatrick nor Scaggs ever upstaged the other once during the performance. In fact, the opposite was the case: they perfectly complemented each other and made doing so look easy.

During the song “Break the Walls,” Fitzpatrick was holding the microphone out to the audience, and Scaggs was holding a hand to her ear while singing. Fitzpatrick selflessly circled the stage, made smiling eye contact with his fellow musicians as his female counterpart crooned. He returned to the front of the stage alongside Scaggs moments later, never missing a beat as he seamlessly injected his voice into the mix once more.

“Out of My League,” the lead single from the new album, which is the Tantrums’ first with Elektra Records, was upbeat dance-pop that could plausibly be reimagined as a lounge number at a lower tempo.

Oddly enough, the song featured the singular flaw of the otherwise spectacular concert, as harsh and gong-like clashes of digital sound over-accentuated parts of the chorus.

The band wasted no time in getting to the toe-tapping funk of “6am” next, and both singers nailed harmonies at the end of lyrical lines in each verse. Fitzpatrick shimmied his hands in the air, and Scaggs showed she has the pipes of a true R&B star by hitting tough successions of notes after each chorus.

Fitz and The Tantrums brilliantly covered the Eurythmics’ 1983 hit, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” They incorporated a jazzy, dirty beat that respected the Eurythmics’ original but still made the song their own. Fitzpatrick, flipping his trademark long gray bangs back and forth during the song, got the whole crowd—balcony level included—to deafeningly shout the song’s refrain: “Movin’ on!”

The cover featured an impeccable saxophone solo by James King, one of several the multi-instrumentalist played during the show.

“Spark” was a catchy anthem. A clever keyboard riff by Jeremy Ruzumna, an intro consisting of electric guitar splashes and clapping and a simple, low-octave chorus made it a keeper.

Scaggs energetically danced rhythmically at center stage with side-to-side crouching moves during “Breakin’ the Chains of Love.” As Fitzpatrick jumped backward off the drum kit platform at the song’s end, Scaggs shrieked, “COLUMBUS!” She explained that she was especially glad to be performing here because she had three nieces and a brother in attendance, all natives of Ohio.

The singers received two equally loud barrages of cheers when they asked who had seen Fitz and The Tantrums before and who was seeing the group for the first time. Fitzpatrick said, “To all of our new friends: Welcome, because it’s about to get sweaty in here.”

The concert’s attendees varied drastically in age, ranging from teenagers and college students to middle-aged women and white-bearded men.

“The Walker,” which featured a memorable whistle line, was a song that impressively managed to sound worthy of a hip-hop sample while making a convincing case to become a dance club favorite.

Fitz and the Tantrums unquestionably saved their best for the encore, however.

 

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