Well, let’s admit it. Most of the crowd who came to the House of Blues last night for KXT’s second birthday party came to see headliners Fitz and the Tantrums. But as a young woman named Tori admitted, while outside the entrance smoking a cigarette, “I might never have heard them if I hadn’t heard them on KXT.” (No, I was not outside smoking a cigarette, I was outside feeding the meter on my car. I have an aversion to valet parking and parking lots.)
Of course, Tori might also have heard of them on those T-Mobile HTC ads, but “The Winds of Change” plays there for, like, all of seven seconds. Not the best intro.
No, whatever you might think of the bits and pieces you’ve heard of Fitz and the Tantrums’ debut album, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, it helps to catch them in concert. They are a terrific live band. Numbers like “Don’t Gotta Work It Out,” which can sound like Hall and Oates re-invented, got punchier and thicker, thanks in part to the fat sound of saxophonist James King and to the hyper energy of Noelle Scaggs.
Some fans, by the way, got to meet the group in the pre-show VIP party — where band members couldn’t have been more gracious and where some KXT fans like Midge Stubbs Burton couldn’t have been happier, meeting KXT DJs Gini Mascorro and Joe Kozera.
But back to the concert: From blue-eyed soul to neo-New Wave-y dance tunes, the evening’s line-up was something of a sampler of the eclectic kinds of “adult album alternative” music a listener might encounter on KXT. Funny how that worked out.
The opening act was Fort Worth favorite Calhoun (below) with their moody, rootsy alt-rock sound — which has touches of country in lead singer Tim Locke’s plaintive voice. Onstage, Locke was happy to be there, happy for KXT, making a point of announcing “Horsefeathers,” their 1920s slang compendium (“you’re a four-flusher, my baby”) as a number you can hear on the station. Later in the lobby, while chatting next to the merchandise table, he called KXT a “beacon” for local music.
The middle of the bill was filled by Walk the Moon, the Cincinnati foursome who are opening for Fitz and the Tantrums throughout their fall tour. They were a ’80s synth-pop change-of-pace after Calhoun. Their sound is distinguished by their innocent-boy-choir harmonies and face-painted lead singer Nicholas Petricca’s enthusiastic thumping of a stand-up bass drum. Walk the Moon never really walked — they hopped and kicked non-stop, giving a bouncy, breathless life to tunes like “Anna Sun” (“we’re gonna rattle this ghost town”) — putting the party in dance party.