Wednesday night’s sold-out show at the El Rey Theatre (Time out: Anyone else feel weird calling it “the” El Rey? Isn’t that just like saying “the” twice in a row, once in English and then once in Spanish? Just me? OK, moving on.) The show at the El Rey far exceeded my expectations, which is saying a lot considering how stoked I was to see two of my favorite bands, Fitz and the Tantrums and AWOLNATION, performing on the same ticket. Both acts treated the audience to several new songs, and while that can always be a hit-or-miss situation, every effort landed right on target and ended up making the night just that much more special.
After a performance by The Belle Brigade that got the night off to a hootin’, hollerin’ good start, AWOLNATION took to the stage and kicked their set off with a new track before launching into “Guilty Filth Soul” off their debut EP. Throughout the set frontman Aaron Bruno paced across the stage, staring out at the crowd with an intensity usually reserved for caged wild cats. He was able to shift seamlessly from a gravely growl to a flawless falsetto, a talent I’m guessing those near me in the crowd wished I possessed as I sang along to my favorite AWOL track, “Sail.” Despite the mic that was hotter than a baked tater fresh out of the oven, the performance was even better than when I caught AWOL at SSMF, and I think Bruno even realized he did good when he finally cracked a smile during the last song of the set, “Burn It Down.”
After an introduction by KROQ’s Kat Corbett, Fitz and the Tantrums hit the stage, and by the end of the first song, “Don’t Gotta Work It Out,” the crowd was in a frenzy. Fitz himself seemed floored by the packed house and their crazed reaction, pausing a couple of songs into the set to stare out over the audience before proclaiming “Holy shit” and thanking us for our dedication to the band.
Like AWOLNATION, Fitz performed several new tracks including “6 AM,” which featured an amazing vocal solo by Fitz’s other half, Noelle Scaggs (sporting a sexy, sequined mini dress). Another new song, the three-day-old track “Wake Up,” instantly found a place near the top of my list of favorite Fitz songs and was a stellar addition to the band’s set, which included “Pickin’ Up the Pieces,” “We Don’t Need No Love Songs,” and “LOV,” among a host of other tracks, all of which are sensational enough to be singles. Considering the polish and confidence with which this relatively young band performs, I’m certain (the) El Rey won’t be the biggest venue Fitz and the Tantrums sells out.
Fitz and the Tantrums
The Belle Brigade