Fitz & the Tantrums, an indie soul/pop group from Los Angeles, used a number of Shure microphones to capture its high-energy dance numbers every night on its recent tour. (Inset) Engineer Jamie Wellwarth has manned the FOH for Fitz & the Tantrums for the past two years. NEW YORK, NY—Soundchecking hours before taking the stage at the Roseland Ballroom, Michael Fitzpatrick (‘Fitz’), lead singer of the indie soul/ pop group Fitz and the Tantrums, steps up to his mic, and with his attention focused on the FOH, belts out a long, clear note, rattling the walls of the historic concert hall.
“You’re knocking off pieces of the ceiling,” laughed Jamie Wellwarth, production manager and FOH engineer for the band, pointing out pieces of debris lazily floating down to the floor.
Hearing those strong vocals blasting through the JBL VerTec system during the initial soundcheck was only a taste of the high-energy concert the band would bring to the stage later that evening. Since the release of the hit single, “MoneyGrabber” in 2010, the band, led by Fitz and Noelle Scaggs, has quickly climbed into mainstream success with energetic dance numbers and exciting live shows—a fact that was proven while the band wrapped up its “Brighter Futures” tour this fall, closing out promotion of its second album, More Than Just A Dream.
In late October, Fitz and the Tantrums made a stop in New York City to perform at the historic Roseland Ballroom, a popular, 3,000-seat concert venue on West 52nd Street in midtown Manhattan that has hosted some of music’s greatest artists, including The Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra and Glenn Miller. The venue first opened in 1919, and will close its doors in April, 2014, adding the recent performance by Fitz and the Tantrums to its history.
For Wellwarth, mixing at Roseland was particularly exciting, as he attended many concerts at the venue growing up. “I’m a little biased when it comes to this venue, coming from New York originally,” Wellwarth said. “We’ve played in mainly venues of this size on the tour, but the difference is that this is Roseland.”
Wellwarth has worked with the band for the past two years, mixing on an Avid Venue SC48, a console he was happy to have. “We went three days without a soundcheck recently,” he said, explaining that the band was traveling back and forth between New York City, Providence, Boston and Hartford as part of the tour and making a few TV appearances along the way. With the Avid Venue SC48, he was able to save his settings from previous shows, plug into the venue’s house system and make adjustments on the fly during the show if the band doesn’t have time for a soundcheck.
Aaron Glas, monitor engineer for Fitz & the Tantrums used a Harman Soundcraft Vi1, throughout the band’s recent tour, including this stop in Las Vegas. The Avid console also helped Wellwarth deal with his biggest challenge— adjusting to each venue and the provided PA system. “Working at different venues with different PAs is always a challenge. What I really want is to be able to step up to the next level and start carrying our own PA,” Wellwarth said. “My main goal is clarity, and really playing the whole frequency range. I even have an analog Avalon 747 in my rack. In the digital world, sometimes the sound is harsh, so I want to try and warm it up with that.”
For the tour, Clair provided the majority of the band’s gear, including the Avid SC48, a collection of Shure mics, a Soundcraft Vi1 console for monitors, and Shure PSM 900 and PSM 1000 in ear monitors. To capture Fitz’s vocals, Wellwarth used a Telefunken M81, while Scaggs was heard via a Shure KSM9. Edgewood, NY-based RSA Audio Service, long the main audio provider for Roseland, provided the evening’s sizable JBL VerTec VT4888 line arrays with Crown amplifiers.
Wellwarth recalled that when the band started, it was only using wedges for monitors, but because of the high energy in its performances, the stage was too loud. Once monitor engineer Aaron Glas came onboard, Wellwarth was able to convince the band to switch to in-ears.
For this particular tour, Wellwarth said they faced a number of obstacles off stage, including blowing two tires the morning of their New York City show. Even with the minor setbacks, Wellwarth said the key is to stay positive: “Even in the hardest times, that is the goal for everyone on tour. I’m always reminding myself that I’m doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do. But ultimately, the goal is to have the audience enjoy the show.”
And it did.