April 13, 2011
by Scott Wink of CharlestonFoodBloggers.com

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Charleston, SC-  Fitz and the Tantrums’ lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick is pacing up and down Ann Street in downtown Charleston.  The tour bus is silently getting a few hours of rest. Michael is wearing a sweatshirt with the hood up.  It covers his distinctive hair style.  He appears to be listening to music with ear buds but is actually on the phone.  King Street is buzzing with activity. The town has not been silent today. Cannons have been firing all afternoon for the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.  Those first shots were fired just a few hundred yards from where we stand now.  As I join the table the band’s drummer John Wicks is seated next to the band’s new tour manager.  Glasses of Zing Zang cover the table.  The band arrived in Charleston today just after noon and the members have been free to roam the city while they await showtime.  I know that Virginia’s on King Street, messages, and coffee from Kudu where popular activities of the day.

Now it is dinner and we settle into outdoor seating at Basil.  John and I talk about the menu and thai food briefly.  They hope they have picked a good place to eat and I assure them they have. Basil is one of my favorites.  John recalls a thai place in Seattle that is one of his favorite, Tup Tim Thai.   John and I have a few similar food influences.  He has lived some in Pensacola, New Orleans and Seattle and I have lived in or visited all those places often.  The bartender at Basil, Xan, is serving me his ginger blossoms and a cocktail of his choice with blood orange. I need to circle back later to get the details of the blood orange drink because it is good.

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John had answered some Q&A for us a few days before arriving in Charleston. The band is really picking up steam when it comes to publicity.  VH1 and Rolling Stone have recently done some work with them.  They have been touring pretty heavily all year and although it looked like the road might be wearing them down a bit you could tell they are still excited to be here and enjoy what they do.  A few passers-by recognized Michael, now with hood down,  and spoke briefly as they passed.  I asked if it was ever annoying to be recognized or to be asked for interviews and the consensus was that those were both good signs. Signs that people were listening to them and getting it.  The age range of their fans is massive.  I would later in the night see a group walk into the concert that appeared to be a family of 3 generations. A grandfather, a father and a son.  Michael tells a story of a man in his 60s stopping him today and saying not only was he going to the concert tonight but he would be following them to Atlanta and going to their next show this week.

Before wrapping up dinner my friend Dave Fuerte came by and joined us.  Dave is an avid dancer (salsa, swing, jazz etc.).  He talked with the guys about soul music and the lack of good dance in most of today’s music scene and how refreshing and authentic their music sounded.  I agreed.

 

It is pretty obvious that Kudu was their favorite find of the day. Now that dinner is over they are desperate to seek out that last quality cup of coffee before suiting up for the show.  They quickly bust out the iPhone, locate Kudu’s number, dial, and are informed that they closed 30 minutes ago.  Sadly they know that they are going to have to settle for a Starbucks. I get a quick photo with they guys before they stroll back down King Street swatting at no-see-ums and enjoying the sights and smells of the city searching for that nearest Starbucks.

The show is great. The opening act was April Smith and the Great Picture Show.  The crowd showed up and filled the Music Farm.  I was not sure how well attended it would be but I was happy to see how packed it got.  Local band Leslie was there promoting their Friday CD release party (you should all go!) as well as local DJ “The Critic” from 105.5 who introduced the main act.  I thought that was very appropriate since he has been playing Fitz and the Tantrums before anyone else maybe in the southeast.

The energy of the Fitz and the Tantrums performance was great.  The dynamic between singers Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs was electric.  They complimented each other well vocally. The dancing, hand clapping, and tambourine shaking was non-stop.  No guitars.  John’s drums lead the band through song after song that kept the crowd moving.  The unexpected treat of the night was a rendition of Sweet Dreams by the Eurythrmics.  The encore finished with the song the whole crowd came to hear…..MoneyGrabber.  It delivered despite being so anticipated by the crowd.

The band hung around after the show and signed for the crowd. They didn’t just meet and greet for 5 minutes. They hung around until everyone that wanted a CD or something signed was taken care of.  It sounded like a few post show drinks were to be had before retiring to the bus for some sleep. Sleep that would rudely awaken them in yet another new city the next day.  I wish these guys nothing but the best. They are a quality class act and put on a hell of a show.

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(l-r) Drummer John Wicks, Scott Wink (me), lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick