More Than Just A Dream
by A.J. Weiner
How many times have you thought or heard someone say their records just don’t capture how good they are live? There are certain artists that fall prey to the magic of the recording studio. In the case of Fitz And The Tantrums and their newly released album, More Than Just A Dream, this fact is not a detriment to the record’s strength, but a testament to how powerful their live presence and performances are. With their sophomore effort, More Than Just A Dream has more than satisfied my now more than year long craving for new material from what has become one of my latest crushes.
I was exposed to Fitz & The Tantrums back in September of 2011, being fortunate enough to see them open up a show at the Greek Theater for Thievery Corporation, another one of my favorite modern musical experiences. As they so often do, the music Gods were indeed taking care of me. It was the day after my birthday, besides just getting the opportunity to see one of my faves, the event was used to usher in the birthday weekend. Thievery Corporation warrants getting as close as possible and for this special night I was lucky enough to score eight front row pit seats for my whole literal party. In retrospect, it turned out to be a surprise party.
Because a front row seat can also be a curse, a week before the show I researched FATT to make sure I even want to bother showing up for the opener. I remember it only taking half of an online concert review and sampling one song to want to risk it. I read a comparison of Fitz himself sounding like Daryl Hall – possibly the greatest white soul singer ever. Also about the abundant soulful energy and that was quite enough. I stopped my research so as to not spoil too much.
FATT hit the stage promptly and launched into the most undeniable burning blend of Motown inspired rock, rhythm and blues, soul, pop and punk – as great as an almost Soul Review as I’ve ever seen. By the middle of the third song, I had forgotten how old I am, what time it was and practically everything else that mattered, including the fact that the band did not have a guitar player. The standout memory of their set that is burned into my soul forever, is that I had to fight the teenage boy inside falling way too hard for FATT’s co-lead female powerhouse singer Noelle Scaggs. My seat turns out to be right in front of her microphone stand.
Ms. Scaggs, in all of her gorgeous rock and soul ferocious glory, from the first beat busts into action and whips up the crowd. She’s caught my eye and the fact that I’m one of the few in the half filled, soon to be sold out Greek Theater audience that’s already figured out what’s going on. Go ahead and ask my recording studio cohorts, friends and family about my concert going spirit and awkward dancing. Fitz & The Tantrums do more than just warm up the crowd, and especially me.
Thievery Corporation’s set was fantastic, but the big surprise was a buzz and sense from the exiting crowd, that the night belonged to FATT and their performance took us to an unexpected place that lifted our spirits beyond expectations. The front row seats paid off – the night now is etched into my memory like a dream.
From that night until today, I have seen the band one more time in person and have let both of their records seep into my mix. More Than Just A Dream is only a week old, but it’s practically been on non-stop and I can’t wait to see them play the new songs live.
Other than comparing Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick to Daryl Hall (which maybe to some is even a turn off or comes across as a copy), the press is not focusing on how phenomenal Fitz and Noelle’s singing is. I am sure it is the distraction of the sound of their records being retro and this is the key to why they aren’t per se, living up to their live show.
See the band live and the retro tag gets obliterated by obvious passion and a hot modern vibe. Listening to the records for the first time, it is so easy to lean on and call out the camouflage and illusion of the retro sound. Pardon me, but retro can be a bullshit critical term. Retro sounds used maybe, but in this case, incredible singing and harmonies, timeless beats, catchy pop hooks and melodies and tons of soul stand out after you give up worrying about whether a record is retro or not. Fitz And The Tantrums rocks harder or maybe I should say punks harder than Hall & Oates ever did.
More Than Just A Dream is another record of 2013 that I’m betting is going to take over the airwaves this summer and beyond.