Forget the Big Bang. Scratch the Fourth of July fireworks. Who needs them when youâ€™ve got Fitz and the Tantrums lighting up Summerfest with their own infectious brand of bright, colorful, explosive fun?
The last time Fitz and the Tantrums hit the Big Gig back in 2012, the trendy neo-soul outfit was placed on the Potawatomi Bingo Casino Stage (now the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage). It was certainly odd placement, choosing a moderately sized, closed-in venue for an increasingly popular band whose on-stage energy levels register well above moderately sized and could doubtfully ever be confined. Â
Two years and several more hit singles later, Summerfest got it right, putting Fitz and the Tantrums on a stage â€“ the Briggs and Stratton Big Backyard â€“ worthy of their endless live electricity. There, lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick and company accepted their promotion and the demands of a bigger stage head on, delivering yet another contagiously energetic set that thrilled the crowd, filled to the brim with loud enthusiastic fans and one very peculiar owl on a stick (it was weird; donâ€™t ask).
With a glowing blue heart-maze design in the background and a whole new album â€“ last yearâ€™s "More Than Just a Dream" â€“ of sassy breakup anthems in tow, the band cracked open the show with "Get Away" and "Donâ€™t Gotta Work It Out." On both numbers, the energy levels were cranked to 11, with the audio mix rocking, Fitzpatrickâ€™s vocals sounding great and getting the crowd moving, and his singing co-star Noelle Scaggs bouncing and grooving on stage as though her bones consisted solely of rubber and Slinkies (as well as bruising her tambourine to the beat with the joint duo of her hand and hip).
The groupâ€™s soulful sprint â€“ though certainly not without interacting with the crowd â€“ continued on into "Break the Walls." That was followed up by "Breakinâ€™ the Chains of Love" and "Keepin Our Eyes Out." The former featured the first of many explosive and impressive sax solos from James King, while the latter put Fitzpatrick and Scaggsâ€™ tight, hot harmonies on display. If they sounded a little off earlier on "Donâ€™t Gotta Work It Out," here â€“ and for the rest of the night â€“ they were right on point.
The main takeaway, however, was that Fitzpatrick had the crowd in the palm of his hand. If he wanted them to sing along, the fans would start belting; if he wanted them to throw their hands or fists in the air, you could bet theyâ€™d be flying. He and Scaggs were certainly putting in an effort, and that, along with their charisma, was contagious. It almost felt rude not to join in their dancing and enthusiasm. The two had to towel off almost every other song, and it wouldnâ€™t be surprising if some in the crowd broke out a sweat too just watching (even before Fitzpatrickâ€™s reminder that they "donâ€™t accept standing around and being on your cell phone").
Ironically enough, right after that announcement was the setâ€™s brief, lone lull, the combination of "Spark" and "Dear Mr. President." "Spark" seemed to require more effort than usual from the two singers, and "Dear Mr. President" fell oddly between another rock number and a slow ballad. Both still sounded good, however, and on "Spark," Fitzpatrick and Scaggs were at least able to feed off of each other and unleash some of their palpable chemistry (which would make a furious return later on "6AM," with the cute little added touch of sixes in the stage lights).
The quick dip â€“ if you even want to call it that â€“ quickly disappeared as Fitz and the Tantrums charged into their jazzy rendition of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)." Forget the originalâ€™s subdued, emotionless techno cool; this cover â€“ heck, the whole set â€“ was a sultry, funky firecracker, complete with manic yelling faces and drum swatting from Fitzpatrick. Another hit â€“ this time an original, "Out of My League" â€“ came next, much to the roaring glee of the crowd.
After the bass-booming "House On Fire," Fitzpatrick quickly extinguished what sounded to be a little altercation in the crowd ("this is a show about love," he preached, before demanding they behave or separate) and hopped into "Fools Gold." The song is their next single, and judging by the enthusiastic response, itâ€™ll be another hit.
The band slowed it down one more time with "Last Raindrop" â€“ a fine ballad made spectacular by the beautiful starry night of swaying cell phone screens and lighters in the crowd â€“ before blasting out "Tell Me What Ya Here For" and the ecstatic finale "LOV," featuring one more sweet James King sax solo, Fitzpatrick erupting from the drums back onto the stage and an insane final breakdown. Even if there was no encore, it was a vigorously fun closer to a vigorously fun set.
Of course, there was an encore, with the vicious breakup kiss-off "MoneyGrabber" and the smash hit "The Walker." Both got the crowd excited one last time and even got them actually dancing and getting down Ââ€“ quite literally in the case of "MoneyGrabber" â€“ on the bleachers, an impressive feat considering standing on the metal benches can grant wobbly, calcified knees to even the most spritely of teenagers. At the end, Fitz and the Tantrums wanted a dance party atmosphere, and they got pretty much that.
When Fitz and the Tantrums first came to Summerfest in 2011, they were merely the openers for the main act: Maroon 5. The headliner stage â€“ now appropriately sized â€“ is all theirs, and Friday night, they owned it.Â
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published Nov. 24, 2015
Google has found little ways to have fun with search - and not just by drawing its name in funny, entertaining ways based on the day. Its latest nifty secret comes from a galaxy far, far away.
Published Nov. 24, 2015
I've got chills; they're multiplying, thanks to my recent discovery of "Grease Live," a live musical and sure-to-be hate-watch event Fox is putting on next year starring Julianne Hough and Vanessa Hudgens.
Published Nov. 21, 2015
After the Packers' loss Sunday afternoon, people took to the Internet to rage. And that's totally fine and legitimate. But some of it left me sadder than Mason Crosby's kick. So here are some quick guidelines that we can hopefully follow for next Sunday to make Packer Nation a little more worthy of pride.
Published Nov. 19, 2015
For most people, bad exercise tapes and other '80s excrement would seem weird. But for Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett ... well, it's still weird. But they love it, and for over a decade, they've been curating these VHS kings of kookiness for their touring Found Footage Festival.
Published Nov. 18, 2015
After a doubtlessly thorough investigation, People Magazine has made its annual dismount from Mount Sinai - via "Jimmy Kimmel Live" last night - to declare the sexiest man alive in 2015: David Beckham.
Published Nov. 17, 2015
This morning, GQ published an interview between former Grantland head and future HBO sports talking head Bill Simmons and President Obama, and one part - concerning what sports figure the current president views himself as - will catch Packer Nation's ear.
Published Nov. 15, 2015
Perhaps my first staycation experience - in Tosa of all places - would give me a new glimpse of an old, familiar neighborhood. It didn't, but there are reasons people seek out a suburban hotel, especially this time of year.
Published Nov. 14, 2015
A man's visit to Milwaukee took a sour turn recently when he claims he discovered offensive messages hidden in a sculpture in Shorewood. The supposed messages can be found on the statue's left leg.
Published Nov. 12, 2015
"Family Feud" arrives this month to audition families for a chance to answer potentially awkward questions with potentially even more awkward responses, likely embarrass yourself on national TV and maybe cash, too.
Published Nov. 12, 2015
Sheriff David Clarke wrote up a ticket yesterday afternoon - to himself, after his squad car was seen parked in a handicapped-accessible spot outside of the Milwaukee County War Memorial.