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Concert review: Fitz and the Tantrums, Young the Giant are complementary in colorful performance

Sameer Gadhia, lead vocalist of Young the Giant, donned a bright yellow overcoat for the band’s Los Angeles performance at The Forum. (Tanmay Shankar/Assistant Photo editor)

By Claire Locke

Aug. 12, 2019 6:35 p.m.

This post was updated August 13 at 12:19 p.m.

Young the Giant and Fitz and the Tantrums, both Los Angeles-based bands, brought it home for their show at The Forum.

The local bands brought electric performances to the Los Angeles leg of their North American tour Saturday. Though the indie bands showcased distinct onstage presences, the two fit together well and their differences prevented a one-note feel. Young the Giant kept a more serious, rock tone with an energetic pop from frontman Sameer Gadhia, while Fitz and the Tantrums presented a neon, upbeat display with their brightly patterned backdrop design and co-lead singer Noelle Scaggs’ constant dancing. Despite their differences, the bands’ performances of their most popular hits kept the crowd dancing and singing along all night.

Fitz and the Tantrums took the stage first, with lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick rocking jeans and a white tank. Strutting alongside Fitzpatrick, Scaggs spiced up the band’s otherwise casual attire with a white denim jacket featuring a rainbow on the back. But despite her laid-back appearance, Scaggs brought energy as electric as the neon colors of their backdrop, adding animated dance moves to every tune while playing tambourine.

As the band’s set progressed, they played crowd favorites like “Fool” and “Fools Gold,” sticking to mostly upbeat indie pop songs. However, they also included some of their less popular, but equally high-energy, songs like “OCD” and “Break the Walls.” The audience emphatically sang along to older favorites like “MoneyGrabber” each time Fitzpatrick and Scaggs offered the mic, which kept up the energy through some similar songs.

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Later in the performance, Fitzpatrick brought out a guitar for their slower tunes, like “Don’t Gotta Work It Out.” Even though the rhythm slowed down, the crowd’s spirits remained high. Fitzpatrick and Scaggs took turns speaking between each of the tunes, sharing their love for their Los Angeles roots and shouting out their families who were sitting in the audience.

Fitz and the Tantrums’ performance truly stood out all night with their creative backdrop projections. Though it rarely featured distinct objects, there was always an interesting color or pattern to match up with their current song. As they performed “Fool,” the backdrop dissolved into the iconic neon pink geometric heart cover of their 2013 album, “More Than Just a Dream.”  Though the performance featured many similar indie pop jams, the leads’ chemistry and the dynamic neon backdrop design made each song feel distinct and matched each rhythm and vibe perfectly.

Following Fitz and the Tantrums’ final song, the crew quickly transformed the stage for Young the Giant, adding an upper level for the rest of the band and setting out their instruments. The sudden shift away from bright colors became evident when the band came out in mostly black and white, the vibe mirrored by their minimalistic lighting. It was only when Gadhia came out in a lemon yellow overcoat that color come into the performance.

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Gadhia not only brought life into the performance with his comparably bright ensemble, but also with his spastic dance moves, often bending over and shaking side to side around the mic as he sang. As the band opened with some of their more popular indie rock songs, like “Something to Believe In,” his copious headbanging set a tone of unrestrained rock.

Throughout the set, the band juxtaposed older crowd-pleasers, like “Cough Syrup,” with tracks such as “Oblivion” from their new album, “Mirror Master.” Even during lesser-known songs, Gadhia kept the performance interesting, particularly as he played a small drum and cowbell at the center of the stage for “Nothing’s Over.”

Gadhia’s exuberance onstage led to him throwing off the yellow overcoat to reveal a button-down, plaid, short-sleeved top and wide-leg black trousers – a put-together but alternative look, which fits their band’s indie and alternative musical style. Though the band backing Gadhia appeared content to fade in comparison to his theatrics, intricate patterns of bright colors, water and animated people added a loud artistic aspect to their more low-key aesthetic.

In addition to the theatricality of the high-energy songs in Young the Giant’s set list, they included slower indie pieces like “Apartment” and “Titus Was Born.” Gadhia’s strong vocals took on a powerful presence all its own that could not be overpowered by the band’s instrumentals backing him up, and the transitions between their rock and slow songs were seamless and mirrored by more subtle colors and patterns in the backdrop behind them.

In contrast to Fitz and the Tantrums’ mostly upbeat performance, Young the Giant matched the serious tones of their music to their creatively simple layout and ad-libs between songs. Shortly before their encore, Gadhia spoke to the audience about the nature of humanity and the transience of our existence. This encapsulated what Gadhia previously said about their newest album, “Mirror Master,” which focuses on exploring and reflecting on one’s inner self.

As the show came to a close, Gadhia emerged in a glittering cape and hood to sing “Superposition” and “Mind Over Matter” as the album cover of “Mirror Master” played in an animated form behind him. The crowd sang along enthusiastically, showing their obvious excitement to hear the band’s most popular songs. Gadhia thanked the audience when the final song concluded, leaving the crowd to ruminate on the mixture of theatrics, heavy lyrics and upbeat performances they had just experienced.

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Claire Locke
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