November 21, 2016 Fitz and The Tantrums Raise Spirits The Paramount Huntington, NY 11-16-16
Breaking the chains of genre classification, Southern California’s Fitz and The Tantrums are a band that stand on their own. Together since 2008, the dynamic combination of Vocalists Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs unified by the colorful instrumentation of Bassist Joseph Karnes, Keyboardist Jeremy Ruzumna, Drummer John Wicks, along with Multi-instrumentalist James King make them a unique bunch, impossible to categorize. Certainly within the Pop realm, their mix of Soul, New Wave, R&B, and Alternative Rock find them accessible enough to fit in the Billboard Hot 100, but edgy enough to be featured on multi-platform music festivals such as Riot Fest.
A group that reaches audiences broad and wide, they have worked extremely hard through the years touring across the globe, earning them the title as one of the hardest working bands around. Now armed with new music in hand, Fitz and The Tantrums unleashed their third studio album back in June and immediately hit the road thereafter. Eleven fresh tracks, the self-titled effort is their highest charted to date, and in the final stretch of 2016, Fitz and The Tantrums are taking it to the people one last time before the holidays. Dubbed the Come Get Your Love fall tour, the last hurrah of the year launched on November 3rd and concludes a little over a week prior to Christmas on December 15th. A run that features support from Barns Courtney, on Wednesday, November 16th, they made their way out to Huntington, New York to host a night at The Paramount. Their first trip back to the venue since September of 2012, it would also mark Fitz and The Tantrums return to the Long Island area for the first time since November of 2014 when they visited The Space at Westbury. A welcomed return to the island, a diverse crowd gathered inside The Paramount ready for a good time.
With the night young, just after 8 PM, Barns Courtney was anointed to get the party started. Of English descent, Courtney spent some of his childhood out in northwestern portion of the US prior to returning home to England in his teenage years. A singer-songwriter with plenty of ambition, he spent time as a member of bands such as Sleeper Cell and Dive Bella Dive prior to pursuing a solo career. Now making big moves since the release of his single of “Fire” in 2015, Courtney released his debut EP, Hands, via Virgin Records back in May of this year, finding himself opening up for Fitz and The Tantrums.
Certainly more guitar, drums, and bass-drive than the evening’s headliners, Courtney came out ready to make an impression. Revving up the amps and bringing on distorted guitar sounds, the crowd ushering in could not help but stop and tap their toes to Courtney’s music. With a flair of Blues Rock to his sound, Courtney showcased tunes such as “Goodbye John Smith,” the rhythmic “Hands,” and hit single “Fire.” An affectionate personality, Courtney matched the music with a friendly conversation with the crowd, and while sometimes it came across offbeat, it worked well. Continuously roughing up his hair in between songs, Courtney conveyed a sincerity about him that reflects his Punk Rock roots. Winding down the set, and playing “Glitter and Gold,” Courtney did a fine job of striking the interest of a load of potential new fans.
Breaking for intermission, the room was now pretty filled up, leaving little room to move on the floor. As mentioned, it was a rather diverse group of individuals who came to catch Fitz and The Tantrums, including teenagers, twenty-somethings, as well as some parents with their children. A mix that speaks volumes for the the band’s appeal, no doubt a part of that appeal is their reputation for a highly energetic live show. Last visiting New York City back on June 21st, mere weeks after the release of their new album, would this Long Island edition of the tour deliver the goods with the same tenacity?
Making sure to squash any such question, Fitzpatrick and Scaggs took to the spotlight wound up and ready to go. Backed up and drenched by synth and a steady drum beat, the two vocalists took to their microphones delivering “Get Right Back” with dancing that matched the rhythm seamlessly. Inviting the audience to sing along, the fun continued with the hand-clapping beat of “Spark” and the more piano-filled Soul tune “Don’t Gotta Work It Out.” Considering the songs all required an intense dosage of energy, it would stand to reason that the band leaders would take a breather in between songs. Interestingly enough, they did not slow down much at all, flowing quickly along with “Out of My League” and “Run It.” Of course taking the opportunity to greet the crowd in between it all, Fitzpatrick felt the pulse of the room, and knowing everyone was there to party, did not break that momentum with too much dialogue as they went into “Break the Walls” and “Breakin’ the Chains of Love.” Following with the more upbeat “Walking Target,” the textured synthesizers filling the air were matched with fiery stage lighting that emphasized the mood, especially the neons burning bright inside Wicks drum kit.
With the adrenaline pouring over into the crowd with each passing moment, “Complicated” was yet another highlight from the new record where Fitzpatrick and Scaggs kept up with their tireless dancing and interacting with one another. This in mind, their chemistry was impeccable and continued to show as they did not crowd or overpower one another, as evident on such songs as “Fools Gold.” Then pumping the beat back up with “Roll Up,” “Do What You Want,” and the retro Soul vibe of “MoneyGrabber,” the band did not even show any signs of fatigue. Something had to give, but it did not, and the sugar rush marched on with the addictive “Burn It Down” before “L.O.V.” where King had a chance to dazzle on the saxophone as the band closed out the set with a smooth jam, jazzy session.
Exiting only for what seemed like merely a minute, as cheers echoed through the room, Fitzpatrick and Scaggs, joined by the rest of The Tantrums, bolted back out for a three song encore. Kicking off with their big hit “HandClap,” it is a single that was a prelude to the new album, lighting up charts since. Accompanied by a visually compelling music video, while the live rendition did not include the choreographed backing dancers, Fitzpatrick and Scaggs did not let up their lively delivery, dancing, singing, as well making hand gestures to hype up the crowd. An eruptive moment, it was followed by “6AM” and another big hit, 2011’s “The Walker” before Fitz and The Tantrums said goodnight.
Still whistling the melody to the last song of the night, the audience exited The Paramount fully satisfied. The evening was not only dressed with colorful lighting, a killer setlist, and dancing, it was uplifting to the spirit. It was a wonderful escape from all the chaos going on in the world, delivering the unspoken message that music can unite us all. For some, it was a return concert experience with Fitz and The Tantrums, and for others, the first time, but judging by the output, it will not be the last.Photos credit: Stephanie Pearl Photography