Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Jon Bear Journal: Capital Cities and Fitz and the Tantrums Concert

Last night I attended a concert at the Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park, New York.  The concert was led off by a band called Beat Club and featured two Los Angeles California bands, Capital Cities and Fitz and the Tantrums. 

I had been really looking forward to this concert for quite some time when I first heard that Fitz and the Tantrums was coming to the area as part of the Bright Futures Tour with Capital Cities.  I was familiar with a couple of Capital Cities songs and my sister had spoken highly of them, so the chance to possibly see two great up and coming bands was too good to pass up.

I work literally across the street from the Upstate Concert Hall, so after work I headed across Vischer Ferry Road to the USCH even though I still had over an hour and a half before the concert was scheduled to start at 6:30 pm.  I did not expect to be able to get in that early, but a bit to my suprise before heading over was the fact that I could hear the bands practicing prior to the show outside the venue.  I listened for a bit but rather than sit out in the cold I stayed in my car until slightly before 6 pm when I began to see people lining up for the concert outside.  My one real disappointment with the night was the fact that while the concert was due to start at 6:30 pm, we were left waiting outside the USCH until slightly after 7:00 pm.  I had my winter coat with me.  This time of year it gets dark by 6 pm and we had the coldest day since late Winter or early Spring as we waited in around 40 degree (4.44 centigrade) temperatures before they opened the doors to let us in.  Several people were not wearing jackets and waited over an hour in the cold in short sleeves.

Now don't get me wrong.  This is Upstate New York and we're used to our cold weather here.  It's not unusual to see scantilly clad, jacket-less young ladies and young men partying in down town Albany wearing short shirts and dresses/skirts/shorts when it's freezing out.  I may have been guilty of it once or twice myself in the past, but in fairness most of the people who wear those outfits are innebriated enough to help keep themselves warm via the drink.  Many of the people attending last nights concert were too young to be drinking and didn't have that benefit.  By no means did it ruin the night and I do not know if it is typical of the USCH to run things that way as this was the first concert I'd been to there... I just think they could have been a bit more "fan friendly" and let us in on time on such a cold night.

I should mention that the price of the tickets was excellent in my opinion, at only $24.00. 

Once inside I was impressed by the venue.  It was rather larger than I had anticipated.  They have two very large bars, one to the right as you enter and one to the center.  The stage is actually located in the back left hand portion of the venue so that if you were to sit at the bar on the right when you first enter you would have an obstructed view of the stage.  That's pretty much a non issue though because the open area where the stage is located is large enough to support the sell out crowd of nearly 1000 people. 

The bartenders were dressed in Halloween outfits and even though Halloween is only two days away I did not see a single concert goer dressed for Halloween.  The stage crews were still setting things up when I first entered (I was about 8th in line) so it allowed plenty of time for me to walk around the venue and get myself a Long Island Iced Tea before the concert began. 

The concert started with Beat Club.  As they were not on the billing I was not sure whether or not there would be an opening band prior to the main performers.  I was impressed with their musicalilty and their music did not belie the band's moniker.  The synthasizer and drums were heavily featured.  I think they were a quality opening act and set the mood nicely for the crowd prior to Capital Cities taking the stage.

It took about 20 or so minutes between performances to set the stage up for the next band.  The venue was dark with low lighting which kind of reminded me a bit of being at a rave even though neither the mood nor the music was anything like you'd experience at a rave.

Capital Cities took the stage to a raucous greeting.  I forgot to mention that as one of the first people in the venue, even after perusing the concert hall and getting a drink I was able to position myself about 3 to 4 feet away from the stage.  I was a bit apprehensive about being one of the few people over 21 standing so close to the stage, but this was the first concert I'd been to since 2006 and I thought to myself... what the heck, might as well party it up because I don't know the next time I'll be going to a concert.

Capital Cities stole the show in my opinion.  They took the atmosphere up to another stratosphere after Beat Club.  They had great energy, but more than anything are incredibly talented.  The trumpet player Spencer Ludwig was extremely impressive.  As much as I had gone to the show because of Fitz and the Tantrums I came away from it having enjoyed Capital Cities musical performance the most.  My favorite performances were the popular Kangaroo Court, Safe and Sound, their cover of Staying Alive by the Bee Gees and a song I'd not heard before called Love Away.  I found a lot of humor in their lyrics and songs, especially the song Farrah Fawcett Hair. 

Capital Cities: Staying Alive

People kind of squeezed in even tighter to the front prior to Fitz and the Tantrums taking the stage.  By this time I was sweating up a storm because of how hot it had gotten, especially considering I was wearing my winter coat for most of earlier performances (there was no coat check at the concert hall that I could find).  I had finally taken the coat off when Capital Cities on their last song had asked all the people who were wearing their coats to take them off and swing them around in the air.  I was grateful for the invite.

I think the crowd anticipation was highest for Fitz and the Tantrums.  They've actually been around longer than Capital Cities, who are still very new, and have released more than one album so they likely have more of a following given their history. The thing that most impressed me with Fitz and the Tantrams is the energy they bring to the stage.  Musically I was not as impressed by their live performance as I was with Capital Cities.  That's not to say they were bad at all.  I just had an extremely high expectation, so they did not fail that expectation, they simply met it and did not exceed it like Capital Cities had.  I think after a bunch of people have been crammed together dancing for a couple of hours it can be a challenge to keep the energy level high.  Fitz and the Tantrums actually raised the bar from the high standard Capital Cities had set in that respect. 

My favorite song from Fitz and the Tantrums has always been Don't Gotta Work it Out, and I loved their performance of that song.  They also did a cover of The Eurythmics, Sweet Dreams are Made of This which set the crowd into a frenzy and I really enjoyed.

This first video gives some insight into the kind of energy they bring.  I think the loudest the crowd got all night was for Fitz and the Tantrums Money Grabber.  So from a crowd perspective I feel like they owned the show.  From a personal perspective Capital Cities was the best for my money.   That said, both feature bands were awesome and I feel like I got a bargain seeing them both for the price I paid.  I'd probably pay double what I did to see either band again live, even without the other.   While musically it's right up there with my favorite concerts of all time, I easily feel that it's the best concert I've been to as far as funk and energy and fun. 

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