Fitz and The Tantrums plays House of Blues

11/20/2014 – The Huntington News

Rowena Lindsay, deputy inside editor

Heartbroken? Lonely? Lovesick? No matter what kind of hurt you are feeling, Fitz and The Tantrums has a song for it that will make you dance instead of cry.

The soul-influenced indie pop band played the first of two consecutive gigs at Boston’s House of Blues to an enthusiastic audience last Saturday. The band consists of front man Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick, singer and tambourinist Noelle Scaggs, bassist Joseph Karnes, keyboardist Jeremy Ruzumna, drummer John Wicks and the multitalented James King, who plays saxophone, flute, keyboard, percussion and guitar.

The songs in Fitz and The Tantrums’ set drew mostly from its second album “More Than Just A Dream,” with only a few songs from the first album “Pickin’ Up The Pieces.” The new album was a departure from the neo-soul sound that characterized the first album, and instead included more pop and electronic elements. This move earned the band greater press coverage and a wider following, but disappointed many early fans.

Some members of the audience won their place through a contest hosted by Radio 92.9 to receive free tickets to either night of the concert, a meet and greet with the band at Lucky Strike bowling alley and access to the House of Blues exclusive Foundation Room lounge.

The opening band was Big Data, the self-described “paranoid electronic pop band,” known for the song “Dangerous” (2013). The band incorporated a running joke about the NSA throughout the show with an omnipresent voice speaking to the audience between songs, asking the crowd to upload as much information about the show to social media as possible.

Big Data played a fairly enjoyable set that got the audience dancing, even though most of the crowd was clearly not familiar with the majority of its songs. The band performed a new song “The Business of Emotion,” which was the best song of the night besides “Dangerous.” Big Data was originally formed as a musical experiment, and it does a good job of making electronic music accessible to an audience that isn’t normally into that genre.

When Fitz and The Tantrums came on, it drew fans into the show with song “Get Away,” an upbeat track from “More Than Just A Dream,” and didn’t let them go until the last note of the night. The first few songs were fun and upbeat, alternating between old and new.

Compared to shows on previous tours, Scaggs played a much larger role this time around. She is no longer a backup singer, and this was undoubtedly a positive move for the band’s sound and image. With her pristine vocals, great dance moves and fabulous energy, it was her to whom the audience was giving their love, and rightfully so.

The turning point in the show came halfway through when Fitz and The Tantrums did its characteristic cover of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These,” a staple at any of the band’s concerts.

The most dramatic moments came shortly after with “House on Fire” and “Last Rain Drop.” Fitzpatrick premised “House on Fire,” a dark and powerful song, with the story of a day that goes almost too perfectly until he gets home to find his woman in bed with another man.

The show slowed down for “Last Rain Drop,” a song that, in the context of the album, is not particularly memorable. However, Fitzpatrick and Scaggs’ hauntingly beautiful duet,  combined with King’s soulful saxophone solo, made it one of the most poignant moments of the night.

After a few more songs, Fitz and The Tantrums threw a full on dance party to “L.O.V.” to close out the main set.

The band came back for an encore with the most popular song from its first album, “Moneygrabber,” which was a crowd favorite, and ended with “The Walker,” a surprising but fun choice from the new album.

All in all, Fitz and The Tantrums played a high energy, emotionally-charged show featuring nearly all of its best songs and creating a fun and enjoyable atmosphere for all.