Denver was treated to two sellout concerts this past weekend as Fitz and the Tantrums and Wilco both paid a visit to the Mile High City. Crowds trickled into The Ogden at around seven o’clock and were welcomed with a mellow opener from American Tomahawk. While the band suffers from a few indie rock cliches and perhaps too many apparent influences, their set was short, sweet, and a good warm up. They were followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.. Cranking up the energy level ten-fold, the two lead singers took to the stage in glowing technicolored blazers while “J” and “R” block letters flashed in front and behind them. The entrance was captivating to say the least, and forced them into the potentially awkward situation of having to back it up with their music. Despite a few instances, they actually maintained the crowd’s attention and even went beyond expectations on their hit “Vocal Chords,” adding dimensions that could only be experienced live.
This set the stage for Fitz and the Tantrums to make their debut. Unlike Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Fitz and the Tantrums featured very few gimmicks and instead relied almost entirely on their stage presence. From their opening song “Don’t Gotta Work It Out” until the final song of their encore “MoneyGrabber,” they kept the energy of the theater at a high level. The stage chemistry between singers Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs was never overdone and helped articulate the emotions expressed in their songs. Throughout the entire set, it seemed as though the band was enjoying themselves just as much as the audience.
As opposed to the high octane, blood pumping feel of the Ogden, the crowd at The Fillmore was noticeably older and more subdued than that of the previous, yet their enthusiasm was no less apparent. Opening for Wilco was jam band White Denim, who, despite some awfully awkward stage presence, had a few moments of brilliance during their thirty minute set. Their performance, though, was dull at times, busy at other times, and featured a bass that was overpowering throughout. Their unique style is clearly designed for the few customized ears in the audience.
Wilco, however, performed a set that was enjoyed by everyone in the crowd. After over ten years of touring and writing records, no one would blame Jeff Tweedy and his band for putting on a lackluster show, but it didn’t feel like anyone in the band had become jaded in the slightest. The entire band seemed to express every emotion of each song as though it was their first time performing them, and the crowd acted as though they were all ten years younger. The 18-song set flew by in what seemed like 5 minutes, and when the additional eight song long encore ended it still seemed far too soon.