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Fitz and the Tantrums sweat it out in Denver

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"Real music by real people" is how Michael Fitzpatrick described his band Fitz and the Tantrums during the first of a sold-out two-night stand in Denver. From most singers, it would be an eye-roller. But from Fitz, after a solid set of hip-shaking neosoul, it was a simple statement of fact.

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By now, the success of the band -- including Fitzpatrick, Noelle Scaggs (vocals and percussion), James King (saxophone, flute, keyboard, percussion and guitar), Jeremy Ruzumna (keyboards), Joseph Karnes (bass guitar) and John Wicks (drums and percussion) -- feels inevitable. But it's taken at least five years of touring with everyone from Flogging Molly to Maroon 5 for Fitz to reach the point where they're packing multiple nights at venues the size of Denver's Ogden Theatre, and to remind fans that a band doesn't necessarily need a guitar to sell albums.

Ah, yes, the guitar issue. Fitzpatrick has said in interviews that he actively doesn't want a guitar-fronted band. "I did want to try and make a big sounding record without guitars," he told The Waster. "For me, I just feel like in any music that has a band, the guitar is always there, it's always featured, it's always prevalent. I'm just sick of hearing it."

Perhaps the most striking feature of the July 1 show was how often the band let songs breathe, giving Scaggs ample time to belt and King plenty of chances to rock jazz-club saxophone solos. While the group's hit songs -- "Moneygrabber;" "The Walker;" "Out of My League" -- predictably got the crowd going, those solos seemed to be the heart of the performance.

Earlier, HOLYCHILD and Max Frost made the most of the crooner-friendly full house.


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