On the breezy evening of October 12, 2016, in downtown Oakland, people of all ages poured into the historical Fox Theater and, with much anticipation, awaited the arrival of Fitz and the Tantrums underneath the neon lights.
For starters, it goes without saying: The Fox Theater is a true gem of the bay area. Originally opening its doors in 1928 as a movie theater, the Fox ran films until 1970. It wasn’t until the 2000s when it was refurbished and finally reopened in 2009 as a prime concert venue. Now, the Fox Theater, alongside Another Planet Entertainment, hosts some of the most iconic artists that come to the Northern California coast. After refurbishment, the Fox can now hold a flexible capacity, ranging from 1500 to 2800 seats. This allows for the freedom to create an open dance floor or to make more standing room or to allow for the formation of cabaret-style seating in front of the stage. Above the movers and the groovers of the floor, sit the more reserved folks up top who, quite possibly are no less enthused but, prefer to exercise the ability to rest their legs in between sets. Assigned seating is available in the mezzanine, loge, and balcony. Also worth mentioning is the interior and structural design of the Fox Theater. The ornate architecture evokes Far East vibes, like some kind of exotic India. Two, gigantic statues of Hindu warriors sit alongside the stage. All of the aesthetics of the Fox truly make for an unforgettable evening.
What is a theater without life? Que Fitz and the Tantrums: “Handclap”. This song undoubtedly gives me life! The lyrics go “I can make your hands clap” and to that, everyone answers *clap* *clap* *clap* … you get the idea. This single, from their newly released self-titled album, is the 2016 dance floor anthem. Even beyond the continuous, rhythmic hand claps, there is fist pumping, and head bobbing, some of which I consider to be head banging, and energetic feet stopping. Quite literally, it is impossible to not induce some sort of rhythmic moves throughout your body when the music is that hip-shaking catchy. Don’t come to a Fitz show if you aim to not dance.
Isn’t it nice when the lead singer(s) of a band actually talk to you and everyone else the crowd am I right? Thank you. Kudos to Fitz and Noelle for being two of the most interactive, genuine performers. After opening with the synth-pop track “Get Right Back”, Fitz and Noelle, each eagerly offer their own version of “What’s up Oakland!” and “How ya’ll doin’ tonight?”.
Michael Fitzpatrick “Fitz” is a very well-trained performer, to say the least. He possesses charisma that, when coupled with his funky fresh style, makes for a highly entertaining performance. He’s got dance moves that for anyone else to replicate might look funny, but are part of what makes him the Fitz. With a stage presence that captivates and a voice that reaches deep down into the soul, Fitz is a real treat to watch.
Noelle Scaggs, the bossy lady of the band, as referred to by Fitz, is a vocalist, songwriter, and lyricist. She possesses an onstage presence that is both natural and smooth. Tonight, she wears a pearly-white, contagious smile and an elegant, black evening gown that exudes both classy and sassy. With the voice of an angel and the moves of a goddess, Noelle controls the stage. Her powerhouse, soul vocals fill every square inch of the theater. This is what gives Fitz that classic Motown sound.
Noelle might be the bossy lady of the band, but let me tell you, she has the entire crowd of people in this theater at her feet tonight. With all eyes fixed on her, she raises her hands into the smoke-filled air and forms a heart with her hands during the last seconds of “Breakin’ the Chains of Love”. Without any hesitation, the crowd responds: several hundred hand-made hearts fill the room. Smiles abound and good feels are felt all around.
Now, what would a band be without, well, the band? We’ve got James King killing it on the saxophone, Joseph Karnes slapping that bass on the bass guitar, Jeremy Ruzumna providing the standout melodies on the keys and John Wicks providing the beat on the drums that you’re feeling all the way down to your feet. Think: retro, 1960s vibes meet soul, gospel vocals meet new-age electro beats and is tied together with an indie pop bow. Put it all together and you’ve got Fitz and Tantrums.
Seeing Fitz and the Tantrums live, needs to be on your to-do list. Maybe not first, but on there for sure.