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 July 24, 2017
Just when you thought it was another nice episode of "Game of Thrones," in a furious explosion of fire, water and blood, Sunday's episode flipped the table over - at least for Daenerys and Tyrion. Here's our recap.
Published July 21, 2017
The forecast will call for some "November Rain" this fall, as Milwaukee welcomes iconic '80s/'90s hard rock band Guns N' Roses and its "Not In This Lifetime" tour to the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Published July 20, 2017
On Saturday, Sept. 2, The Lights Fest tour will float its way to the Dodge County Fairgrounds in Beaver Dam, gathering people to relax outdoors with food, fun and the collective launch of personalized paper sky lanterns into the night sky.
Published July 20, 2017
This morning, Rock the Green, the one-day sustainability festival headed to Walker's Point on Saturday, Sept. 9, announced the rest of its lineup, featuring an impressive combination of big national names and beloved local acts.
Published July 19, 2017
Still wringing out your clothes from the Summerfest Day 1 downpour? The poppy R&B trio SHAED - who performed that night at the Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard - feels your pain. But that didn't scare the group off from returning Thursday night at The Rave.
Published July 19, 2017
Because there is still joy in this world, the world's biggest bounce house - or bouncy castle, or boingalow, or whatever term you prefer - is bounding its way over to Milwaukee this summer.
Published July 18, 2017
They say there's no such thing as bad press, but after the past season of controversy - whether it's Lee's racism, the "Bachelor in Paradise" debacle or Dean's hometown date last night - I have to wonder if it's all been worth it for ABC.
Published July 17, 2017
Before he hits the Festa stage, I asked the crooner about his love of the old legends, his TV appearances then - on "American Idol" and "AGT" - and now, and how doomed his diet will be on his first visit to America's Dairyland.
Published July 17, 2017
Well, you can't say season seven of "Game of Thrones" got off to a slow start, as the premiere episode - "Dragonstone" - opened with a great Arya sequence before putting its many pieces back on the board.
Published July 13, 2017
There's a One Direction-shaped hole in the world of pop music right now, and ABC producers thinks they're the ones to help fill it - possibly with the help of a young Shorewood singer.