Concert review: Fitz and the Tantrums, Capital Cities at the 9:30 Club

By Emily Yahr, Published: October 31

Generally, it’s a bad sign when a band is more energetic than its audience. But from the moment Fitz and the Tantrums burst onto the stage at 9:30 Club on Wednesday, it wasn’t a fair fight. Lead singers Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs danced and flailed around for the entire hour as the band blasted through its high-octane tunes.

“I want everybody to lose their [expletive] minds!” Fitzpatrick roared, as the crowd — including several people in bulky Halloween costumes — tried to keep up.

Playing the first of two sold-out concerts at the venue, it’s fair to ask: Just where did these guys come from? The Los Angeles-based group broke out this year with bouncy alternative hit “Out of My League” and continued to gain steam with constant touring. Eventually the group got mainstream attention for its retro-soul throwback sound — featuring a heavy dose of saxophone — mixed with modern pop.

Plus, their live show is captivatingly crazy. Scaggs, armed with a tambourine and some electric chemistry with Fitzpatrick, led the party as the high-energy songs quickly all started to blend together, making the whole set a blur. The momentum was broken only a few times, such as when Fitzpatrick set up the steamy “House on Fire” with a long, elaborate story about catching a partner cheating.

But the crowd didn’t seem to care about anecdotes — they just wanted to dance. Finale “MoneyGrabber” turned into the sort of scene you would see at a wedding when the DJ instructs guests to get “a little bit softer now” during “Shout” as Fitzpatrick encouraged everyone to make their way to the floor and then leap back up in the air.

L.A. pop duo Capital Cities, the openers/co-headliners, had little trouble pumping up the crowd thanks to their inescapable summer electro-pop jam “Safe and Sound.” Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian are former jingle writers who have seen their smash song infiltrate pop radio and, coincidentally, commercials.

The pair occasionally broke into coordinated dance moves and performed about a dozen of their breezy, beat-heavy songs (“Kangaroo Court,” “Center Stage,” “I Sold My Bed, but Not My Stereo”). But it was trumpeter Spencer Ludwig who almost stole the show with his solos, adding a much-needed shot of unique energy to the electro-pop.

Merchant and Simonian did their best to differentiate themselves from their pop peers, and some moments were legitimately strange. Introducing the deeply bizarre “Farrah Fawcett Hair,” Merchant proclaimed the song was about celebrating, “Things in life that are undeniably good — like Nutella, and Daniel Day Lewis.”

And when the show appeared to be over, Merchant cautioned the crowd, “We’re not done yet, we want to dance with you guys.” Sure enough, the guys dropped their instruments, a remix of “Safe and Sound” roared over the speakers, and they hit the stage to spastically groove along.