Photos By Armando Gallardo, Words By Julie Espinosa
Last Saturday, the crowd at the 9:30 Club crowd experienced some of the best soul-influenced indie pop touring in 2014. Opening for Fritz and the Tantrums was Big Data, an electronic musical project that is slowly but surely making its way into the hearts and minds of the masses with its single “Dangerous,” which was recently featured on an ad for Spotify’s connect service.
The brains behind Big Data’s music is Alan Wilkis, who has been releasing EPs since 2013 using digitally-inspired version titles such as 1.5 to signify both the cutting-edge nature of the work as well as the transformative experience his music was going though. Yet, it wasn’t until “Dangerous” hit the airwaves that mainstream media started paying attention to a project which is sure to have plenty more noise to make.
Attendees at the show were given 2 items as they entered that would enable them to become active participants in the show. The first was a Big Data ‘mask,’ of Wilkis’ likeness with a message on the back encouraging people to take photos upload them to the web using the hashtag #bigdataface. Additionally, fans were given a “Fitz & The Tantrums” emblazoned bracelet with blinking LED lights that activated with as they moved. These trinkets unified the audience as much as it enabled participation — over the course of the night, the concert went from a sea of beards and glasses to a field of blinking lights.
Big Data’s show has changed a lot over the last year, which makes sense since it considers itself not a band per se but a project, as discussed on their website. A few months ago on The Tonight Show, the performance was largely dominated by Joywave, who is featured on the track “Dangerous.” This time though, Wilkis led the show seamlessly alongside singer Lizy Ryan, who was an eye-catching addition to the performance with her short shorts and swinging ponytail. Wilkis also seems to be finding his ‘groove’ onstage, displaying some jerky and endearing robotic moves. Adding to that was the light show, which was mostly shining from the back, giving the performers a silhouette-like form suited for very unique photos.
Wilkis regularly shares an excellent Spotify playlist every Friday titled “Big Data: Friday Mixtape” which is sure to continue attracting new fans as they search for ‘Big Data’ on the intrawebs.
Fitz and the Tantrums took the stage at 10:20 p.m. with a mash-up of 3 of their songs which blended quite nicely. The saxophonist really got things started as he went on an epic solo during the first mash-up, while Noelle Scaggs kept jumping up and down and moving from side to side as if this was part of her daily workout, which wouldn’t surprise us given her killer abs. Scagss was soon joined by Michael Fitzpatrick who gave a heartfelt speech at the end of the song thanking the crowd for selling out the show on the first day, in a matter of hours to be exact. He talked about the beginnings of the band and how 5 years ago that would have all been a dream and how much their fans meant to them. He then instructed the fans to, “get those arms moving for the next song and activate those led lights from the bracelets.”
Fitz’s Motown influence was evident throughout their set, specially in songs like ‘’Don’t gotta work it out’ and ‘Moneygrabber’ where he instructed the audience to, “Jump and lose your fucking minds.” And not only did they do just that but really connected with the audience in a moment of pure musical bliss and enjoyment of their neo-soul sound.
The striking visuals, from the light show to the flashing heart and the well-documented blend and charisma of Fitz and Noelle, gave it a fresh look and what does a neo-soul concert would normally look like. If one adds the atypical but oh-so cool Pop’s build and release that their songs had, one knew it was worth refreshing the page over and over to get that magic ticket that got you in at this sold out show.
More than just the sound, the Fitz and the Tantrum show was an exquisite treat of refreshing visuals led by Noelle straight-from-a-90s-hip-hop-video and Fitz’s flashiest-motorcycle-rider-ever looks and the combination of the sums of all kinds of positive variables. Add to that the revitalizing and colorful show that Big Data put and one gets a show worthy of a sold out night at the 9:30 Club.