Fitz and the Tantrums Play Houston’s HOB

Written by Lauriston Brewster & Peter Cortez


You’ve probably heard this bombastic rock duo from Michigan on the radio already: Where Will We Go and Hey Girl received ample air time on 94.5 The Buzz.

Drummer Chris Phillips (who should consider entering into a Jonah Hill look-alike competition if there is such a thing) and affable front-man Christopher Martin have a great comedic rapport with each other that kept the fidgety HOB crowd very entertained. In addition to their laid-back personalities, these guys also had an ultra-minimalist style to match (to the point of not wearing shoes while on stage).


Detroit rockers IAMDYNAMITE opening for Fitz

They have a pretty cool sound: a mix of garage-punk and Lo-Fi that’s both melodic and chaoticTo get a good idea of their sound, check out OEO, Stereo or Carolina, which can all be found on their debut album Supermegafantastic (2012). 

At one point, Martin seemed to be on the verge of demonic possession while performing the frenetic guitar solo at the end of Carolina. It was pretty amazing to watch: Martin strumming maniacally until his arms twitched and feigned while his head rhythmically bounced around as if attached to a swivel.

Friendly and down-to-earth, IAMDYNAMITE were great openers. Rather than the routine “Play-and-Go” of most openers, these guys genuinely wanted to ensure that the crowd had a good time. And we did.

Main Event: Fitz and the Tantrums

Mondays are a drag, no doubt about it. It almost seems like there’s no cure for the dreary drudgery of a Monday. Well, friends, we’re here to tell you that there is definitely a cure for the Monday blues. And it was found at House of Blues.

Fitz and the Tantrums delivered the distinctive sound they are known for: a complex and melodic mix of indie-pop/dance music with hints of 80s-New Wave, along with a very palpable dash of nostalgic 70s soul due in large part to the Tantrum tandem of  vocalists Fitzpatrick and Scaggs’ powerful vocals.

Also, multi-instrumentalist James King proved to be a force to be reckoned with. Indeed, Francisco Fisher of KDHX rightly called James King a “musical swiss army knife” as King’s repertoire of instrument knowledge is so vast it seems almost comical: switching between flutes, saxophones, keyboards, guitars and even melodic whistling. Whistling! I always thought that the melodic whistling on The Walker was auto-tuned or something. Nope.

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And so yesterday, the captivating soul sextet from L.A.–Fitz and the Tantrums–  transformed the venue into their own personal dance party (and everyone in H-town was invited). There’s nothing to say about this band that has not already been said. Fitz and Scaggs –the leads of the band– are vocal powerhouses in their own rights. Scaggs is seductive to the point of intoxication; and Fitz must have rocket-fuel coursing through his veins because for the entire show he simply would. not. stop. moving. And their dueling vocals work in beautiful soulful harmony that harkens all the way back to Mo town.

But what’s really entertaining about a Fitz show is that they refuse to let anyone off the hook. “No wallflowers!” screamed front-man Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick to the rambunctious crowd. “No texting on your cell phones!”

While the standing room–by default– were already on their feet (duh), you didn’t have to tell them twice when to clap, jump and wave. I think they were referring more so to the dour-looking balcony dwellers. But before long even the “sit-down folk” were on their feet, cheering and waving shirts. There is simply  no escape from the nebulous energy that radiates from a Fitz concert. Or maybe I should say Fitz carnival (’cause that’s really what it felt like).  Utterly amazing.

Picture of Fitz and the Tantrums confetti rain

Photography by Peter Cortez