REVIEW: Fitz And The Tantrums at Summerfest

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On Wednesday night, thousands of Milwaukeeans dusted off their dancing shoes for another year of Summerfest, but Fitz and the Tantrums were already in prime form. Headlining the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, the band hit the stage with their modern take on new wave, indie, and everything in between. With perfect weather, The Big Bang, and plenty of liquid encouragement being consumed, Milwaukee was ready for an opening night party. The soundtrack for the evening delivered that.

For a band at Fitz and the Tantrums’ stage of their career, the band seemed humbled by the large crowd on Wednesday night. Frontman Michael Fitzpatrick took time out from his set to thank the crowd for coming out, and vocalist Noelle Scaggs showed her admiration for the Packers on stage, to obvious fanfare. Other than a few moments, though, the band launched into song after song of their growing discography, which included material from their self-titled album, released earlier this month.

While Fitzpatrick is the namesake of the band, Scaggs had a very commanding stage presence, and could play any role that a song required. The trio of Fitzpatrick, Scaggs, and the multi-instrumentalist James King were the main attractions of the show. King held down the low end, almost literally with a giant bass saxophone. Twice during the night, the band deferred to him to break it down, once as a solo and again at the end of their regular set with drummer John Wicks. From a talent perspective, everyone in the band is stellar at what they do. It’s a well oiled machine, and when it runs like they did on Wednesday night, the end result is near perfection.

Looking at the set, the band held off on most of their radio hits for later in the evening. Breakout hit “Out Of My League” came rather early to appease the masses, but for the most part, everything else was held to the encore. This created an awkward moment, however, because at the end of the regular set, there wasn’t much noise for an encore. Everyone in the crowd knew the band was coming back, because, well, they still had hits to play. Fitzpatrick came out to tell the crowd that “everyone’s passed out in the back” and they needed noise to wake them up. Maybe it was the first night rust, or the fact that a good portion of the crowd had to be at work the next morning, but it took that encouragement to get the bleachers going. An encore that included current commercial background hit “HandClap” and closer “The Walker” were very lively from both the band and the crowd, however, and everyone went home with what they wanted.

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