Next stop, THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL!
It was wonderful.
Like most new things, stuff everybody suddenly becomes enamored of, Fitz & The Tantrums are hiding in plain sight. You’re gonna love ‘em, you just don’t know about ‘em yet.
Sure, the music is retro. But it’s not a rip-off, not a compendium of samples, but brand new. It’s like somebody from the sixties suddenly popped his head through the turf decades later to enchant and elate us. It’s akin to the ska revival in the UK in the late seventies and early eighties. It’s about feeling good and not caring a whit about those not clued in.
People were packed in like sardines. And despite the media hyping us on Rebecca Black, people who’ve barely reached puberty, most of the audience was way past twenty one. These are not scenesters, but music lovers. They know the power of sound, they know that when done right not only is the music enough, it eclipses a night at the movies, at the sports arena, it titillates and sets your mind free in a way no other stimulus can.
Great music has repeatability. Hear it once or twice and you get it and can’t stop playing it. That’s what Fitz’s music is like.
So I knew every lick.
True fans don’t go for the hit, they know every cut, they want more, they need to go to the gig and bask in their fandom, marinate in the sound that’s accompanied them at home, in the car, exercising…we can take our favorite tunes everywhere, and we do!
And this is a band like no other. There’s no guitar. And no tapes. And no production wizardry, no backdrops, no dancing other than that inspired by the music itself. Choreography is for ballet, performer movement at the show should be about inspiration, the tunes sparking you to gyrate to blow off the energy.
And now I’m sitting here wondering what else I can say. The new tunes were as good as the old ones. Fitz had the audience in his hands, he got them to squat down to the floor and rise with the music, emote and sing along. But really, you had to be there.
If you can put it on a DVD it’s missing something. Because a great live show is about sweat and movement and emotion. It’s not about sitting on the couch, but nodding your head, twisting your torso, feeling fully alive.
They’ve sold 75,000 albums. Jeff Castelaz calls it his "block and tackle" approach. Focusing on a locale and leaving no stone unturned, until that territory is conquered and the company moves on to another.
And Jeff truly impressed me. Not only with his passion, but his knowledge that it’s a brand new world. Dangerbird’s got a piece of all streams of revenue, otherwise a label can no longer make it. But he and Fitz are in it together, they’re partners, not adversaries. And there’s more ways to earn a buck than sales. Licensing is Dangerbird’s forte, they even perform this role for major label acts. And they know that although radio and press still count in the new world it’s about going direct to fans, which is extremely difficult with a brand new act but is doable with new technologies and pays dividends in loyalty. This gig at the Music Box was SOLD OUT!
It’s all about getting lucky. Fitz & The Tantrums are gonna do something that’s gonna blow them up. They’re gonna try to do everything, they’ve done late night TV, they’re angling for morning shows, but I think it’s gonna be the festival show, or the appearance that’s an afterthought that goes viral.
This band is that good.
They’re charismatic, they’re not playing by the rules, the sax player brought out his sister and they played FLUTES! There were more horns and a string section for this gig, all in support of the music.
Somewhere along the line music became about the show. And show was defined as something dazzling, something that speaks to your eyes as opposed to your ears. But a great show has got little to do with what you see and is focused primarily on what you hear. You feel it, you can’t believe you’re there, it’s not passive, but active.
I don’t think radio will play Fitz & The Tantrums. Not because they’re not good enough, but there’s no place on the dial for them. They’re not rapping over beats, they’re not banging their heads, they’re not wimpily singing their tales of woe while strumming acoustic guitars.
In the old days, this lack of radio would kill an act. Now it just makes you work harder, and when you finally break you’ve truly made it, for not only today, but tomorrow.
Get clued in. You want to be able to tell your buddies you were there first. Before the whole country went Fitz & The Tantrums crazy.
From: Jeff McDonald
Subject: Thanks: Fitz & The Tantrums
Just wanted to send a thank you message. I just got back from the Opera House in Toronto where I saw Fitz & The Tantrums. I checked them out after reading your letter about them a while ago. Absolutely fantastic band, and the show was better than I could have hoped for. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a show that didn’t have a guitar or wasn’t electronic (with the exception of piano recitals involving myself, my brother and sister as a kid). Somehow, that didn’t matter at all. If you hadn’t pointed that out in your letter, I’m not sure I would have noticed. It was just a great gig, and that’s all that matters. To top it off, I got them to sign my CD after the show. I haven’t stayed behind at a gig to do that in years. I feel a bit old to be doing that, but not this time.
From: Gary Beatty
Subject: Fitz and the Tantrums – Boston…
Hi Bob -
So… I was fortunate enough to be amongst the crowd at last night’s sold-out FATT show at the Paradise in Boston. I don’t know if the term "sold out" is technically correct given the gig was a freebie courtesy of WFNX and Amstel Light but the place was at capacity with just about as many people unable to get in as there were packing the place to the rafters.
Talk about a band that "gets it"… these guys do. It’s been a while since I’ve seen an act put as much effort into and get as much enjoyment out of putting on a show. Despite the fact those in the crowd didn’t have to pay for their pleasure, FATT put on a show that was worth $50+ a head and I found myself leaving the place with a sense of genuine appreciation for what they did. The band was tight, they sounded great (though I might have ever so slightly jacked up Fitz’s mic), they looked fantastic and for 90+ minutes, they engaged and energized the crowd, they danced, they clapped and they poured as much love back onto the crowd as they were getting from the floor with a collection of quality material. Just an all-round great performance. And I can’t tell you how many times they thanked (not in that obligatory way you so often hear) the people for coming out to see them.
And to be completely honest, I’m in no way a diehard fan of these guys. I don’t yet own their album (though based on last night I WILL be purchasing it on principle as my own little way of showing my appreciation for what they did). I didn’t know a lot of their material prior to last night and in truth, I’m not convinced they’ll be an act that will be around for years to come. But based on what I saw last night, they probably deserve to be… if they can maintain that passion. For now though, they’re something a little but different from the norm, they’re entertaining as all hell and above all, they seem to want nothing more than to entertain. A breath of fresh air in a musical world polluted with so much drivel.
They’re due to return to Boston in the fall and I’ll be busting my ass to make sure I’m there and I’m sure I won’t be the only one. It goes back to your point, if you give it away at the start, you’ll earn it back 10 fold later.
Here’s a link to a review I found online:
Hope all’s well with you sir. Keep on keepin’ on.