Young the Giant and Fitz and the Tantrums
Greek Theater, Berkeley
August 15, 2019
Photos by Marc Fong
One of the biggest indie tours of the summer came through the Bay Area on Thursday night as Fitz & the Tantrums and Young the Giant both delivered powerful sets on a warm day at UC Berkeley’s Greek Theater.
For ten years, Young the Giant have been perfecting their brand of anthemic indie-rock and it was clear from the very start of their set on Thursday night that they were at the peak of their powers. Beginning with the surging stomp of “Oblivion,” the band took the stage as lead singer Sameer Gadhia came out in a bizarre-looking outfit that seemed to fit the mood of the song quite well. After that, the band was off as they tore through an inspired set that covered their entire recorded output.
What makes Young the Giant such a compelling band is the fact they have so many different-sounding songs that range from blistering arena rock to meditative ballads, sometimes in the span of only one song. In appropriate fashion considering the warm summer day, a few songs into the set the band rolled through the breezy “Heat of the Summer,” which was driven by the snappy guitars of Jacob Tilley and Eric Cannata.
A few songs later Young the Giant quieted the crowd with the soothing ballad “Titus Was Born,” which began with a quiet bit of acoustic guitar before picking up steam towards the end. One of the most memorable moments came next in the form of the gentle “Firelight,” which saw Gadhia asking the crowd to pull out their cell phones and aim the light towards the stage, producing a dazzling visual effect when they turned off the house lights. The band continued to alternate between old and new material before briefly leaving the stage, only to return for a four-song encore.
Gadhia thanked everyone for coming to the show and remarked how he used to sneak into the Greek Theater during his college days to catch concerts, and how surreal it was for him to now be playing on its stage. The band then launched into a couple of new songs before finishing the night with their most well-known song, the driving anthem “My Body.” Beginning with a stomping drum beat from François Comtois and a slick bassline from Payam Doostzadeh, the song slowly began to pick up the pace as the dueling guitars and the vocals increased in intensity before exploding in the chorus, which had the entire audience singing along loudly to. It was an emotional high point and a fitting end to a tremendous performance from Young the Giant, who have proved once again that they are one of the most electrifying life acts around.
Fitz and the Tantrums got the evening started off with a high-energy set that showcased their infectious and groovy music. While most bands would struggle without a dedicated guitar player, Fitz and the Tantrums had no such trouble (though there were a few songs that featured guitar). The real key to the band’s live power is the two-headed juggernaut of Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs, who both strutted around the stage delivering plenty of strong vocals on every song. This effect was felt immediately as the band launched into their opening song “Get Right Back,” a slick piece of dance-pop that rode a catchy synth line from Jeremy Ruzumna.
Next up was the smooth “Spark,” which rode a propulsive groove from bassist Joseph Karnes and drummer John Wicks. The song also featured some tasteful guitar work from James King, switching between funky chords to powerful lead guitar during the choruses. The band alternated between new material from their upcoming album and some older classics, such as the surging “Break the Walls,” which featured a particularly memorable chorus with Scaggs and Fitzpatrick really turning up the intensity.
Later in the set, the band really started to bring out some big hits, and these songs seemed to sound perfect when played at full volume to a packed audience at the Greek Theater. This was most apparent on the swaggering “HandClap,” a smooth and funky tune that rode a rhythmic bassline from Karnes along with some stellar saxophone playing from James King. Of course, Scaggs and Fitzpatrick had no trouble hitting all the right notes and getting the crowd to sing along with them.
To close out their set, the band performed their most well-known song, “The Walker.” Anchored by a catchy bit of whistling, the song absolutely exploded during the choruses, only to settle down for each verse.
Young the Giant:
Setlist: Oblivion | Something to Believe In | Heat of the Summer | Apartment | Amerika | Nothing’s Over | Home of the Strange | Titus Was Born | Firelight | Cough Syrup | Panoramic Girl | Mind Over Matter | Call Me Back || Encore || Superposition | Tightrope | Silvertongue | My Body
Find out more about Young the Giant on their website.
Fitz & the Tantrums:
Setlist: Get Right Back | Spark | Don’t Gotta Work It Out | Out of My League | 123456 | Break the Walls | MoneyGrabber | Fool | OCD | Fools Gold | I Need Help! | Roll Up | Burn It Down | I Just Wanna Shine | Hands Up | HandClap | All the Feels | The Walker
Check out Fitz & the Tantrums on their website.