Labeled a “band to watch” back in April of 2011 by Rolling Stone magazine, Los Angeles based Fitz and the Tantrums have lived up to the hype. A vision back in 2008 by founding vocalist Michael Fitzpatrick, he soon assembled a eclectic mix of musicians with Vocalist Noelle Scaggs, Multi-Instrumentalist James King, Bassist Joseph Karnes, Keyboardist Jeremy Ruzumna, and Drummer John Wicks. Uniting Rock, Pop, Soul, Dance, and some Hip Hop, their sound is smooth, yet impossible to define. All the more intriguing, over the course of three studio albums, including their recently released self-titled album, Fitz and the Tantrums have seen an upward trend in popularity. With a slew of addictive new cuts in hand, they launched their The Get Right Back Summer Tour on June 14th with dates running through September 1st. Taking along Finish Ticket, they arrived just in time for New York City’s own descent into late nights and hot weather on Tuesday the 21st. Ready to show off their new experimental sound, Fitz and the Tantrums were ready to light up the stage of the Terminal 5 down in the Hell’s Kitchen portion of the city.
Nearing full early on, the main floor was packed with people excitedly moving about between the bar area and center of the room. On the upper levels, there was the sound of laughter and energy all around. With that in mind, people milled about closer to the stage and railings on the upper levels, as the lights on the stage brightened and Finish Ticket walked out to a hearty applause. Out of California, Finish Ticket is a very fresh face to the music scene, sound heavily rooted in Indie Rock/Pop. Those new to the band, it all began back 2012 with the meat of their lineup made-up of Brandon Hoye (vocals), Michael Hoye (bass), Alex DiDonato (guitar), Gabe Stein (drums), Nick Stein (keyboard), and David “Crim” Nguyen (traveling guitar). So far the band has dropped one full-length studio album, 2014’s Tears You Apart, and in that time have opened for big names in the genres such as Twenty One Pilots, The Black Keys, Ed Sheeran, and of course Fitz and the Tantrums.
Ready to get the party started, “New York City, how are we doing tonight?” calls out Hoye, who receives a warm and enthusiastic response from the audience. Wasting no time, Stein kicked it into gear as a steady and upbeat drum tempo began, while the rest of the band began with first song “Wrong.” A song reminiscent of everything going right with the Indie and Post-Emo genre; it features very particular bass build and vocal range that builds up the energy of the crowd it attracts; all in all, an extremely catchy song with lyrics that focus on growing up and loss of innocence. Extremely receptive to the fast-paced, hectic, yet well put together track, the entire first floor rocked out, dancing and shouting the words among themselves.
Through a huge round of applause, Finish Ticket started “Lying Through Your Teeth,” which features a very groovy, relaxed chord progression that directly followed by the soothing and cool vocals of Hoye. The song, though projecting radically different energy than the last one, is easily adapted to by the welcoming crowd, who was content to bob along to the funky chords and tinkling piano keys. The atmosphere then became slightly heavier as Finish Ticket glided smoothly into “When Night Becomes Day,” a very soulful and emotionally piece with heavy bass effect, melancholic keyboard, and a yearning, yet arching voice. Enjoyed by all, many knew it word for word as every level of Terminal 5 was filled with raised hands and swaying bodies.
Taking a moment to soak in the moment, Hoye proclaimed, “It’s wonderful to be back in New York City, one of our favorite venues,” and followed with, “Thank you guys so much for coming early and hanging with us.” With that, Finish Ticket plowed through poppy “Catch You on My Way Out” and an impressive cover of The Killers’ classic “When You Were Young.” Playing off the audience’s energy, Hoye asked, “Are you guys warmed up yet? Who’s ready for Fitz and the Tantrums?” Met by an enormous positive reaction, Finish Ticket responded by starting up the music again and going straight into “Pockets,” then break out song “Color,” and lastly, Blues heavy song “Bring the Rain.” Amidst screaming and crazy clapping, Hoye calls out, “Thank you guys so much!” as the band exits stage. A telling opening set, it is clear they are a band that is up and coming and will be a very big name to the industry soon enough.
Following an intermission of audience members exchanging friendly conversation, a litany of Classic Rock songs played before Fitz and the Tantrums took the stage, with “Major Tom” by the late legend David Bowie being the most notable. With “Major Tom” eliciting strong crowd reaction, most people knew the song in its entirety, and then the music over the speakers came to a gentle halt. Wondering what was happening, the audience quickly reacted in a huge frenzy and the platform was engulfed in a bright purple lighting, with the infamous heart logo outlined in neon pink. In those few tense seconds, the anticipation was palpable in the room as Fitz and the Tantrums took center stage to an adoring crowd.
Going right for the gold, they jumped straight into their setlist with new song “Get Right Back” pulsing outward, getting the crowd riled up. The whole room was literally jumping, with fans and the band both dancing wildly and singing as Fitz played funky “Spark” and throwback “Work it Out.” Those who have seen Fitz and the Tantrums know they have a unique way, one which showcases each band member’s musical talents through their eclectic style and aesthetic, all while dancing like hell.
Energized by the sea of people across the floor, Fitzpatrick amply yelled, “New York, New York yo what’s up? Thank you all so much for coming out with us, to hang with us tonight.” Drowned out by the humongous applause, cheering, and screaming, he and Scaggs encourage the crowd to dance and sing along more. Never a band that wants a wallflower audience, Fitz and the Tantrums came fully armed to Terminal 5 with an enduring setlist, which included favorite “Out of My League,” “Run it,” “Break the Walls,” the irresistible new single “Handclap,” and “Breaking the Chains.” Flowing effortlessly between their new singles and older hits with such potent enthusiasm that was incredibly infectious, no one in sight and hearing distance was able to stand still.
Taking another moment to thank their fans again, Fitz and the Tantrums continued on to play groovy “Walking Target,” “Complicated,” “Fools Gold,” ‘Roll Up,” “Do What you Want,” “6AM,” brand new Dance track ‘Tricky,” “Burn It Down,” and, lastly, one of their breakthrough hits, “LOV.” Departing following a long improvised drum solo and dance breakdown by Wicks and Fitzpatrick, it was a few minutes into their exit that the chant of “encore” echoed through the venue. Finally, after waves and waves of cheering, Fitzpatrick ran back out, encouraging the audience to clap louder for his bandmates – who were exhausted – to pull it together for an encore. The resounding response was almost deafening as Scaggs, Wicks, Kass, King, and Ruzumna bum-rushed the stage. Perhaps a plod to get the crowd even louder, it worked, and the band was vibrant and vivacious as ever as they play famous, groovy “MoneyGrabber” and hit song “Walker” as their encore. With the show all but over, the audience was more than satisfied from the electrifying and heart-pounding experience as Fitz and the Tantrums expressed great thanks, exiting for the final time.
There was everything a concert goer could have wanted from a live performance in the Get Right Back Tour’s visit to Manhattan, including multiple bandmate solos, dance breaks, audience participation, and a spectacular light show. It is a great thing that the tour spearheads straight into fall, as this may be Fitz and the Tantrums most amazing live performance to date.Photos by: Aintellin Photography