CROSSROADS: Many remember the last Alberta Cross Santa Barbara show for the insane crowd it drew to our itty bitty Muddy Waters Café. But those who were there for either of the two sets the band played that night can also remember just how hard they rocked it.
Since that fateful eve, Alberta Cross (collectively, frontman Petter Ericson Stakee, bassist Terry Wolfers, guitarist Sam Kearney, keyboardist Alec Higgins, and S.B.-born drummer Austin Beede) have done more than their fair share of touring, circumnavigating the globe with everyone from the Dave Matthews Band and Ben Harper to rock supergroup Them Crooked Vultures, all in support of their breakout record, Broken Side of Time. This Thursday, Alberta Cross return to Beede’s home—and move on up to the more adequately sized SOhO—for a night filled with high-intensity, Southern-inspired, guitar-driven rock. I recently chatted with Beede en route to one of the band’s final stops with Matthews and Harper, and he talked about making the jump from stadium concerts to club shows.
“The biggest difference is just the sound. When you’re playing on a huge stage, all the sound goes away and you need the big monitors. Smaller stages, the sound is right there. Then with the audience, you can see the people right in front of you and kind of interact with them, whereas a huge audience is always like 20 feet away. It’s like playing to a sea of people. They’re there, obviously, but you can’t really see them.”
Alberta Cross play SOhO (1221 State St.) with Dead Confederate and J-Roddy Walston and the Business this Thursday, September 9, at 9 p.m. Call 962-7776 or visit clubmercy.com for info. And for the full interview with Beede, visit independent.com/albertacross.
THROW A FIT: As far as musical legends go, Fitz and the Tantrums’ story is one for the record books. Just last year, the sextet was little more than a well-kept L.A. secret, known by few for their infectious Motown-inspired tunes and high-energy live performances. Then, one fateful day, thousands of miles from their home base, an N.Y.C. tattoo artist who’d caught on to the Tantrums’ tunes met Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. During the singer’s ink sesh, the Tantrums’ debut EP spun in the background. Just weeks later, the Tantrums were gearing up to hit the road with Levine and his bandmates, and soon playing sold-out shows to 2,000-plus-person venues.
And while the Maroon 5 pairing provided some undoubtedly awesome exposure, I’d argue it was only a matter of time before these Los Angelenos broke. Following in the footsteps of throwback soulsters like Mayer Hawthorne and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Fitz and the Tantrums wear their vintage-loving hearts on their sleeves, even going so far as to dress the part. (Think slick, matching, three-piece suits and shiny ’60s cocktail dresses.) Still, it’s the live show that ultimately works to best sell the band. Just two weeks ago, they annihilated their slot at the annual Sunset Junction festival, inciting a groovy dance party in the middle of the Silverlake streets that still has people talking today.
Since then, the Tantrums have also released their Dangerbird Records debut, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, to a bevy of positive reviews from pubs like L.A. Weekly and Spin. Like the EP, Pieces is chock-full of shimmy-ready beats, swanky bass, and sexed-up sax solos. In turn, the vocal play between frontfolks Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs makes for one of the more dynamic male-female pairings I’ve heard in recent years. While Fitzpatrick can pull off a mean Bobby Darin-meets-Elton John croon, he’s at his best when he’s channeling his inner punk rocker. And placed alongside Scaggs’s big, choir-ready voice, it’s a serious force to be reckoned with.