‘You guys are destroying my mind right now.’ – Michael Fitzpatrick
A DC crowd at The Anthem will have that affect on you. Both Noelle Scaggs and Michael Fitzpatrick of Fitz and The Tantrums were overjoyed to be performing in front of an almost full house at The Anthem on February 14th.
In fact Michael went so far as to say this was his favorite show they’ve ever played. One can usually smell the hyperbole in these claims by musicians, but this didn’t feel like that. The show had a special quality and energy, and most of us at the edges and on the floor were thoroughly entertained.
Indeed Fitz and The Tantrums performed all their high energy indie pop earworms, many already ingrained in our minds over more than a decade of hits (they started out in LA in 2008). Their music often contains positive messages, and the latest album, All The Feels, speaks specifically to dealing with hardship, and trying to overcome and stay positive. Often with the recognition that one cannot do everything on their own. They played eight songs from All The Feels, including what may be the overall theme of the album, “I Need Help!”, about not being afraid to ask for what you need.
Four giant blue streams of light washed over the crowd, as they kicked off their 21-song opus with “Get Right Back”, a syncopated dance track about not giving up, setting the tone and the theme of the evening.
Michael does most of the vocal work, but for numerous songs Noelle took the lead, or joined in. The band is robust, with six members including, Michael on vocals, Noelle Scaggs on vocals (and percussion), James King (guitar, saxophone, and more), Joseph Karnes (bass), Jeremy Ruzumna (keyboards) and John Wicks (drums).
Next came “Spark”, with a dash of rockabilly, dropping the full press of pulsating lights and glimmering videos to bear on the audience, this time in hues of red.
The stage was set on two tiers, with Michael, Noelle and James along the front. Behind them was Jeremy back left, Joseph back right, and John on the drums in the center. Each ‘station’ was illuminated with bright spotlights before the show started, portending a grand entrance. Behind the musicians, seven tall video screens encircled their performance area, emitting vibrant streams of conscious and sometimes discernible images, like scenes from a few of their videos you can stream online.
The first song they performed from All The Feels was the single “123456”, but it wasn’t until a few songs later with “OCD” that really highlighted how enthusiastically those in the crowd were willing to dance to the new music.
“Break the Walls”, a confident and uplifting track from their second and likely best album More Than Just a Dream, gave Noelle the chance to lead in the vocals. She often profusely thanked the crowd for coming, in between her non-stop dancing, sometimes choreographed with Michael.
To me, it’s amazing the number of songs you often find yourself singing along to on the car radio, but somehow forgot was by Fitz and The Tantrums. Many people in my section went for it, dancing their asses off, and singing at the top of their lungs. The crowd was having fun, certainly not just because it was Valentine’s Day.
A another common theme throughout the set were the moments for James to shine with his sax (not always solos), which was most evident in “6am”. Michael and Noelle added some sweet coordinated dance moves during the sax interlude. The sax wailed and moves were busted.
The penultimate track in the main set was the extra positive, feel-good “I Just Wanna Shine” from All The Feels. Michael had everyone hold up their cell phones with the flashlight setting on, illuminating everyone dancing in The Anthem, and chasing away the darkness.
They came back for three songs in the encore, starting with the ubiquitous “HandClap”, and closed out with the ‘whistle song’ aka “The Walker”, to much cheering.
If you missed the show, certainly you are intrigued enough to check them out next time they visit DC. You just won’t have been to THIS show, their BEST show ever, and that is a shame.
Get Right Back
Out of My League
Break the Walls
Livin’ For The Weekend
I Need Help!
Burn It Down
I Just Wanna Shine
All the Feels