by Adam McGrath
California cool invaded Philadelphia Friday night as The Bright Futures Tour, featuring LA bands Fitz and the Tantrums and Capital Cities, turned the Electric Factory into a happy, sweaty dance party. Three thousand fans packed the venue to capacity, covering every inch of the floor, bar and balcony, and each was treated to high-energy sets full of bouncy, funky music.
After opener Beat Club warmed up the crowd, Capital Cities took the stage to a loud roar, clad in their customary satin jackets. They plunged right into their hit track “Kangaroo Court,” which gave trumpeter Spencer Ludwig ample opportunity to rev up the crowd with his brassy bravado.
Capital Cities is a balanced ensemble, with singers Sebu Simonian and Ryan Merchant splitting the spotlight and offering visual variety to their stage show. The music benefits from this balance as well, as synthesized elements blend with a rock backbone punctuated by funky horn lines, all designed to get your feet moving. The band swerved into a Britpop sound with “Patience Gets Us Nowhere Fast,” then took a trip back to the future as they offered up their versions of “Stayin’ Alive” and Weezer’s “Undone.” The ’70s kick ended with the sample-laden “Farrah Fawcett Hair,” and the boys even added a little bit of choreography to bring everyone into sync.
As their set swelled to an end with “I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo”, Merchant encouraged everyone to whip their shirts above their heads, and the frenzy grew as the band launched an extended version of their biggest hit, “Safe and Sound.” With cotton swirling in the air, the band came out from behind their instruments and danced across the stage, jumping and clapping as the crowd shouted their approval.
The energy stayed high in anticipation of headliner Fitz and the Tantrums, and just before eleven o’clock the band’s lanky namesake, Michael Fitzpatrick, jogged onto the stage to a huge round of applause. Two microphones stood at the stage’s edge for Fitz and Noelle Scaggs, with saxophonist James King and his plethora of instruments to the side, and a wide-open space behind them before the rhythm section. This setup allowed the two singers to prance and shimmy all over the place throughout the night, and lead the crowd in blissful dancing and clapping.
Fitz and the Tantrums has come to be known as a hard-working, hard-touring band, and their performance shined with all the little details of a band who thrives on playing live. Fitzpatrick quickly shucked his jacket to expose a black and white thick-striped tee that served to highlight his signature shock of blond hair. Scaggs looked svelte in black tights and close-shorn hair, brandishing a red tambourine as she harmonized with Fitz.
The set leaned heavily on the band’s sophomore album, More Than Just a Dream, featuring tracks like “Get Away” and the anthemic “Break the Walls.” Hits from the first album were also mixed in, such as “Don’t Gotta Work It Out” and “Breaking the Chains of Love”. After pumping things up with “Spark” and a cover of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams”, the band slowed things down a bit and let everyone catch their breath.
The respite would not last long, though, as Fitz prefaced “Out of My League” by saying, “You, the fans, are the reason we are here. Thank you for taking this song to number one.” The soulful, earnest performance brought the energy back up, and continued through the excellent “6AM” and “Merry Go Round”.
After a brief exit, Fitz and the Tantrums returned for an encore, and everyone knew the house was coming down with “MoneyGrabber.” Hearing this song live was so much fun, and the entire crowd had their hands in the air. Then, with one last song, Fitz made everyone get low as the band started playing “The Walker.” At the first crescendo, he and the fans jumped up just as confetti cannons sprayed pink bits of paper into the sky.
The Factory bumped and bounced all night because of the in-your-face, relentless energy of Capital Cities and Fitz and the Tantrums. There was no way to have a bad time as these musicians created megawatts of energy that fed into a truly fun live music performance.