Fitz and the Tantrums headline NHL All-Star Friday concert

A quick look at the band that kicks off All-Star Weekend.

On Monday, the NHL announced that Fitz and the Tantrums would kick-off the 2018 All Star festivities by headlining a free concert in Curtis Hixon Park on Friday the 26th at 8:00pm. While that was met with a resounding, “Who?” in the writers’ room at Raw Charge Headquarters, I happened to have first hand experience with the band. Well, I’ve at least downloaded a song or two of theirs and seen them live.

Before you join the “I’ve never heard them before” crowd, let me tell you that you are wrong. You are most certainly wrong. Most likely you’ve been in an arena that has encouraged you to “Make Your Hands Clap” Or, if you have been in front of a T.V. at any point in the last couple of years you have heard “The Walker” hundreds of times without knowing who sang it. The song was featured in a Sprite commercial, baseball playoffs promo and most notably as part of a trailer for the Oscars. Yup, it’s the whistling song that gets stuck in your head when you’re not paying attention.

While it’s nice to get a song used in commercials for monetary and branding purposes, it can lead to folks getting a little annoyed at a band they aren’t really sure of who they are.  Fitz and the Tantrums are, as the NHL correctly describes them, a “neo-soul/indie” band.  Or at least that’s how they started out when they first burst onto the scene out of Los Angeles in 2010.  Their earlier music has a much more Motown-influenced sound that wove in just enough electronic synth to sound fresh. As they’ve become more popular, their music has edged away from their soul origins to more of a pop-music/autotuned commonness.

That being said, they put on one hell of a live show. The music that they play seems less polished (in a good way) when they play live and lends it a frenetic energy that makes the crowd want to move around.  Lead singers Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs interact with the crowd throughout their shows, either by leading out various call and responses or encouraging the crowd to dance.

From a first hand experience, having seen them play in a run down club in Chicago (RIP Double Door), even if you don’t know the lyrics you will have a hard time not wanting to dance along.  The music has an infectious quality that just inspires movement. With their judicious use of horns and reliance on a driving beat the music plays well in small, sweaty clubs and more open venues like Curtis Hixon park.

Also, apropos to absolutely nothing music or hockey related, Scaggs has a wonderful Instagram account (@adventureswithscaggs) where she documents some of the culinary adventures she has while on tour. It’s a great resource if you’re traveling and looking for some place to eat in a new city.

This isn’t the first time the NHL has hooked up with Fitz and the Tantrums. They also played at the NHL Face-Off 2015 in Calgary, an event that kicked off the 2015-16 season.

The concert is scheduled to start at 8:00 pm and is billed as having additional musical performances and special guest appearances. There is no ticket required and it is open to the public. If you don’t have plans, make your way down to Tampa to help kick off the weekend the All Star weekend. Or, if you’re looking for something else, hang out on Saturday to hear Flo Rida, billed as the state’s “musical ambassador”, perform before the Skills Competition.