Fitz and The Tantrums energize The Space at Westbury, NY 11-11-14

Fitz and The Tantrums energize The Space at Westbury, NY 11-11-14

Keeping themselves busy, Los Angeles based Indie/Neo-Soul band Fitz and The Tantrums continued their touring through November in support of their 2013 album More Than Just a Dream.  Founded in 2008 by singer/songwriter Michael Fitzpatrick, Fitz and the Tantrums’ rise to fame has sky rocketed with their unique style and sound. Opening for Maroon 5 just a few months after releasing their debut EP, Songs for a Breakup Vol. 1, they have since played shows around the world, opening for big name acts like Bruno Mars and deservingly have earned their own headlining tour.  On the road for an impressive three month fall tour, they came to The Space at Westbury, NY on Tuesday November 11th with support from Big Data.  Just one night prior to their New York City show, fans from all over Long Island, and beyond, came out to the beautiful theater in the heart of Westbury Village to see Fitz and The Tantrums.

Setting the mood early was Big Data; an electronic project created by Brooklyn-based producer Alan Wilkis. Originating on the Internet in 2013, Big Data does not have a regular set of performers for live shows and Wilkis, instead enlists the help of friends. At The Space, he was joined by singer Lizy Ryan.

Big Data were aptly introduced by a computerized voice resembling that of Simon, the electronic memory game that was popular in the ’80s. The voice went on to encourage audience members to post images from the performance to their social media accounts. This directive, friendly as it was, reminded participants of the degree of control that technology has over our lives. Wilkis, who emphasizes themes concerning technology and our relationship with it, made robotic movements throughout the performance, similar to those of synthpop favorites Devo. The set featured eight songs, including singles “Bombs Over Brooklyn” and “Dangerous,” as well as a cover of Hall and Oates’ “Private Eyes.” The sound was synthetic, as expected, but melodic and cohesive enough to hold the crowd’s interest. Ryan’s sultry voice worked particularly well to tie the melodies together, and the audience responded to her and Wilkis’ expressive movements by drifting their hands in the air and dancing, especially when the band played “Dangerous.” Big Data told the crowd that this was their seventh night opening for Fitz and that they were loving the experience. It was clear that they were enjoying themselves on stage, and with the dancy electronics of Big Data’s music, the upbeat mood was contagious, effectively firing up the crowd for the headliners.

Without further ado, it was time for the main attraction fans were clamoring to see. Vocalist Noelle Scaggs was the first to take the stage, grabbing her tambourine as Fitzpatrick followed and the band’s pink heart logo flashed on the stage behind them. The leads were backed by fellow band members James King on saxaphone and flute, John Wicks on drums, and Jeremy Ruzumna on keyboards. Playing at a rapid-fire pace, Fitz started with “Get Away,” immediately following with “Don’t Gotta Work It Out,” and “Break The Walls.”  After these first three songs, Scaggs acknowledged the crowd: “Well, we’re Fitz and The Tantrums. Glad y’all came out to see us! This is our first time at The Space in Westbury … let’s make it a memorable one!” The crowd responded enthusiastically as Fitzpatrick bounced around the stage and Scaggs smacked her tambourine and moved to the rhythm. Fitzpatrick and Scaggs playfully came closer to each other as they sung, almost as if competing, trying to outdo each other in pitch and soulfulness. Keeping the audience’s involvement, everyone was encouraged to flex their vocal muscles, and The Space was taken over by warm unison singing during the chorus of “Spark.” Inspiring fans to sing along more, they went into a cover of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams,” which was thrilling and energizing.

The adrenaline continued to swell until the band slowed things down a bit with “Last Raindrop” when they asked the house to turn out the lights and the audience to light up the venue with the flashlights on their phones. With the crowd providing the only illumination, King played an impressive sax solo accompanied by Wicks on drums during “L.O.V.” Eager for more, fans enticed an encore which followed with the tracks “MoneyGrabber” and  single “The Walker.” During the latter, Fitzpatrick instructed the crowd to jump at a particular point of the song, and when the chorus began, everyone’s feet left the ground while silver confetti rained down upon them. It was a truly spectacular way to conclude a truly spectacular performance by a powerhouse group that is not to be missed.  Their stage presence was invigorating, and their Motown-inspired sound kept the audiences dancing. Plain and simple., those who have not seen Fitz and The Tantrums need to do so for a feel good time celebrating music and life.

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Meghan Ritter
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