Skip to content

Concert review: Fitz and the Tantrums at Red Butte Garden

by on July 1, 2014


Fitz and the Tantrums sold out Red Butte Garden Monday night, filling the mountainside amphitheater with a high-energy blend of retro soul moves and pop flourishes that attracted an audience considerably younger than the typical wine-and-cheese regulars.

I was expecting a massive dance party led by the Los Angeles sextet’s two vocalists, Michael Fitzpatrick–aka “Fitz”–and Noelle Scaggs, and both the band and the crowd delivered on that front. What I was not expecting was the Beatlemania-style shrieks of packs of pre-teen girls. I’ve reviewed the likes of Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and Beyonce in my lifetime, so that high-pitched squeal is not a completely foreign sound–but I don’t recall ever hearing it at Red Butte Garden.

In that regard, the essentially unoriginal sound of Fitz and the Tantrums led to something new Monday night. And there’s no denying the band’s pack of horn-driven, synth-tinged tunes’ ability to get the people on their feet and moving. That always makes for a great scene at Red Butte, and Monday’s show was no exception.


Fitz and the Tantrums filled their 90 or so minutes on stage with songs from their two full-lengths, 2010’s Pickin Up the Pieces and last spring’s More Than Just a Dream. At the beginning, they alternated between the two; “Get Away” from Dream made for a funky show opener, and they followed it up with the powerful Pieces track “Don’t Gotta Work It Out.” Then came the new “Break the Walls” before the older “Breakin’ the Chains of Love,” both preceding Fitz and Co. setting off on a  long string of songs from the new album, only pausing for a well-placed cover.

That cover, a high-energy singalong version of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” proved remarkably pliable. The original is an icy bit of classic ’80s synthesizer pop, swathed in the powerhouse vocals of Annie Lennox. Fitz and the Tantrums took out any darkness that might have existed and turned it into a sweet pop confection for people to bounce along to. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that–but it did make me kind of yearn for a little more edge to the band’s songwriting.

I was clearly in the minority on that point, as people bopped along to Fitzpatrick and Scaggs’ boy-girl vocal trade-offs and the band’s work recreating the sounds from the albums. James King, who switched between saxophones, keyboards and guitars throughout the night, is worth noting as a band musical MVP. His talents helped the band tear through songs like “Keepin’ Our Eyes Out,” “MerryGoRound,” “House on Fire” and the monster hit “Out of My League” over the course of the evening.

“This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to on tour,” Fitz proclaimed at one point. “We usually pull up in dark alleys behind clubs. This is glorious, guys.”

No doubt the hardcore Fitz fans in the crowd felt exactly the same–but they weren’t talking about the setting.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: