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Concert Reviews:
YTG, Fitz & the Tantrums mix and sort-of match at Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Sunday, June 30, 2019

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STERLING HEIGHTS -- California pop earnest, and earnestly upbeat, met on Saturday night, June 29, at the Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre in Freedom Hill, resulting in a disparate but still winning hot summer night's worth of music.

Young The Giant, which closed the show, specializes in heart-on-the-sleeve introspection, albeit highly melodic and occasional ethereal via proggy, Radiohead-style ambience. Fitz & the Tantrum, on the other hand, throw a dance party almost as if it's a mission; Even when frontman Michael Fitzpatrick is digging a little deeper on a song like "I Need Help!" he fuels his angst with a buoyant, beat-crazy exuberance. The transition between the two was jarring, but their individual sets were both spot-on, and there was enough of a shared audience amidst the modest turnout -- plenty of fans on the lawn were upgraded to pavilion seats during the intermission -- to make it work for all concerned.

YTG is more than eight months into the campaign for its fourth and latest album, "Mirror Master" -- whose latest single, "Heat of the Summer," was an apt anthem for Saturday night. Performing before a wall of slender video screens and mirrors, the quintet started moody with "Oblivion" before pumping into more upbeat fare such as "Something to Believe In" and "Apartment," with Ann Arbor-born frontman Sameer Gadhia working a bank of effects devices that added textures to most of the set's 16 songs. Ambitious arrangements for "America" and "Titus Was Born" were swoon-worth highlights, as was the Gadhia-ordered cell phone flashlight display during "Firelight," but YTG was effective when it lightened the mood as well -- particularly during a length vamp through "Nothing's Over," during which Gadhia and bassist Payam Doostzadeh danced a low-key hustle.

If YTG simmered, however, Fitz & the Tantrums burned during its 50 minutes on stage, with Fitzpatrick and fellow vocalist "boss-lady of the band" Noelle Scaggs working up a significant sweat over the course of 17 songs. Following a spirited opening set by Nashville's Coin, the sextet put the pedal down early with "Get Right Back," "Spark," "Don't Gotta Work It Out" and "Out of My League" and never really let up as it nimbly distributed other favorites -- "MoneyGrabber," "Break the Walls," "Fool," "The Walker" and, of course, the fail-safe global smash "Handclap."

Most exciting, perhaps was a generous amount of new material -- seven songs from Fitz and company's upcoming fourth album, "All the Feels," due Sept. 20. A few -- the infectious "123456" and "Don't Ever Let 'em" -- have already been released, while Saturday gave the group the chance to unveil other newbies such as "OCD," the title track and the anthemic "Hands Up," all of which folded nicely into the group's exuberant repertoire and surely gave those at Freedom Hill plenty of reason to look forward to the "next time" return that Fitzpatrick promised as he and the Tantrums finished.

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