Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fitz and the Tantrums at the Rock Hall

If one were looking for a showcase of reasons Cleveland is an exciting place to live, this past Wednesday evening at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would be a perfect example - nice summer weather, great food, and a rocking music scene. Rising band Fitz and the Tantrums kicked off the Rock Hall's Summer in the City series of free concerts by playing to a large crowd in front of the world-famous museum on the shores of Lake Erie.

Cara and I headed down early to grab a bite to eat from Cleveland's growing fleet of food trucks, represented that evening by Umami Moto, Jibaro, and Dim and Den Sum. Having grabbed some tasty eats from Umami quite recently, I opted for a burrito from Jibaro, which was quite good. I also got a delicious cinnamon coated, cream-filled churro. Cara went with the always excellent PBLT from Dim and Den Sum. It was a sunny day, and the heat was quite sweltering as we sat and ate, but as the sun went down it turned out to be good weather for an outdoor concert. It was great to see so many people out and enjoying the Cleveland summertime.

Local band Clovers played first, with an enjoyable set of tunes that seemed appropriate for the venue - I got a definite classic rock vibe. It was really a wonderful setting for a concert.

The crowd continued to grow throughout Clovers' set and in the break before the headliners. The turnout was impressive, but not too surprising considering that Fitz and the Tantrums sold out the Grog Shop on their previous (and first) visit to Cleveland. Before Fitz and company took the stage, a man from the Rock Hall came on to give a spiel about the band and the concert series. He remarked that Fitz and the Tantrums have been described as "neo-soul," but he felt this was not really an appropriate characterization, and "retro soul" would be more fitting. I found myself agreeing with him; the band really brings a classic Motown sound to their music.

Fitz and the Tantrums are really picking up some buzz, and their live show made it clear why. Their songs are packed with stellar male-female vocals and grooving sax, keyboard, percussion, and basslines. They played most of their original material for an adoring audience, and also threw in a pair of covers: "Steady As She Goes" by the Raconteurs and "Sweet Dreams" by Eurythmics. The latter, played near the end of the set, became an extended jam session with each instrumentalist getting a solo.

The band proceeded to bring down the house (as it were) with their last song, the absolutely infectious "MoneyGrabber." Before the song, they commented that it was great to see so many children in the audience getting to experience real live music at a young age, and then invited the children up onto the stage to dance along. This was really special to see. I'm sure it will be a great memory for those kids.

And be sure to check out the MoneyGrabber video. If you don't feel like shaking your hips to this song, you might be dead inside.

The Summer in the City series continues with three more shows coming up:

Wednesday, July 13th from 7-9 p.m.: Das Racist with Smoke Screen and Muamin Collective
Wednesday, August 3rd from 7-9 p.m.: The Joy Formidable with HotChaCha
Wednesday, August 17th from 7-9 p.m.: Murder by Death with the Buried Wires

Each one should be a good time, and did I mention they're free? It's hard to beat that deal!

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