State Theatre Portland
Fitz and the Tantrums, X Ambassadors

State Theatre presents

Fitz and the Tantrums

X Ambassadors

Mikky Ekko

Sat, June 16, 2018

Doors: 5:00 pm / Show: 6:00 pm

Thompson’s Point

Portland, ME

$38.50 Advance / $42 Day of Show

This event is all ages

Everything you need to know about Thompson’s Point CLICK HERE

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Buy tickets in person at the Port City Music Hall box office (504 Congress Street) Wednesday-Friday 10AM-5PM, charge by phone at 800-745-3000, or online right here. Thompson's Point box office will open at 3PM day of show.

Fitz and the Tantrums
Fitz and the Tantrums
Since forming in 2008, Fitz and the Tantrums have always been a band hell-bent on evolving. Having made a splash with the soulful R&B-revival sound of their debut album, 2010’s Pickin’ Up The Pieces (released on Dangerbird Records), the band offered up a New Wave-influenced dance-pop sound with its Elektra Records debut, 2013’s Heatseekers No. 1 More Than Just A Dream, which featured the gold-certified and #1 Alternative Radio singles “The Walker” and “Out of My League.” The album’s success sent Fitz and the Tantrums on a two-year touring odyssey, which enabled the Los Angeles-based sextet — known for its explosive, no-holds barred live shows — to cement themselves as one of the country’s hottest live acts.

“We felt incredibly validated by the reception to More Than Just A Dream,” says the band’s co-vocalist Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick. “We knew we could pull from many different styles and create a truly hybrid form of music, and do it in a way that felt authentic. At that point, we felt even more empowered to do whatever we wanted creatively.” But when it came time to write the songs for Fitz and the Tantrums’ third album, it became clear to Fitz and his co-vocalist Noelle Scaggs that they were suffering from a classic case of writer’s block.

It was January 2015 and the band, which also includes James King (saxophone, flute), Jeremy Ruzumna (keyboards), Joseph Karnes (bass), and John Wicks (drums, percussion), had barely been home since the release of More Than Just A Dream two years prior. Cooped up with each other in an insular environment on tour had taken its toll. “The last album was made super fast and in something of a bubble,” Fitz says. “This time there was a lot of massive change happening for all of us personally, so once we put our roots back in the ground at home, I needed someone to hold up a mirror and say, ‘Where are you right now, as a human being? What do you care about? What do you want to say to the world?’”

To hold up that mirror, the band turned to outside collaborators for the first time — the songwriters and producers Sam Hollander (Panic! At The Disco), Wallpaper’s Ricky Reed (Twenty-One Pilots), Jesse Shatkin (Sia, Matt & Kim), and Joel Little (Lorde), which gave the band an opportunity to answer some tough questions. “We relinquished control of ourselves,” Scaggs says, “and that enabled us to tell our story in a completely truthful manner.”

The result is Fitz and the Tantrums’ most emotionally connected record yet and one that centers on the theme of desire. “I wanted to explore this idea of desire in all of its forms,” Fitz says, “from primal, sexual desire on a song like ‘HandClap’ to the desire or need to belong on a song like ‘A Place for Us.’ Desire is one of those emotions that really forces you to turn your brain off and just feel. That's just the nature of it. And that lends itself really well to us making a record that provides a soundtrack for people to access that emotion no matter where they are. If you’re getting ready for work in the morning and you’re thinking, ‘Ugh, I hate my boss,’ you have access to this music anytime that just changes the molecular structure in the room. It changes the energy.”

That transformative experience — further bolstered by the album’s diverse palette of musical influences including hip-hop, trap music, reggae, and world music rhythms played on 808s — is something Fitz and the Tantrums have always strived to deliver. “To me, the songs on this album offer a release from whatever is going on,” Scaggs says. “They help the listener shift their mood in that moment. Our goal was to make a record that makes anyone listening feel something from the heart and feel like they are a part of this community we’ve created.”

One of the first songs written was the first single “HandClap,” which garnered over a million streams on Spotify its first week out. A tale of lust and animal desire, contrasted with the desire to not be alone, “HandClap” set the tone of the album right away: “I was searching for something that felt visceral and edgy,” Fitz says. “As soon as that moment happened, I was relieved. It felt like the compass — that theme of letting go and losing control — had been set. And it found its way into the rest of the album.” “Complicated” is a story about the most basic form of desire: “It’s when you have no willpower against the pure sexual chemistry you have with someone you know is going to hurt you,” Fitz says. “Burn It Down” is about the desire to break down the protective mechanisms that one has in place but that are keeping you from being present in a relationship. “That comes from a very personal place for me,” Fitz says. “I carried the twisted family dynamics I saw as a kid into my adult relationships and found them to be a massive hindrance. So the question became, ‘Am I going to burn down this relationship with this baggage I’ve carried my entire life?’”

And finally, “A Place For Us” is about the desire to belong. “Whether you're the jock in school, or you're the Freaks & Geeks guy in the corner, I think everybody has, to some degree, this sense of not being accepted,” Fitz says. “And that is a super powerful message.” Adds Scaggs: “To me, the song is about building community. We’re all connected and once people realize that, it’s going to change the way the world works.”

In this way, “A Place For Us” continues to uphold Fitz and the Tantrums’ long-held worldview. With their lively sonic mix of '80s New Wave, blue-eyed soul, disco, and dance-pop, the band has always used celebratory music as a way to break down social barriers and bring people together. Fitz, a longtime studio engineer and aspiring musician, formed the group in 2008, driven simply by “a need to be creative and not lose my mind over a breakup.” He found worthy musical partners in his bandmates, with King, Ruzumna, Karnes, and Wicks all being top-notch players, and the fierce, elegant Scaggs supplying the feminine emotional counterpoint to Fitz’s physical, masculine id.

“From the first second, we just connected,” Fitz says of Scaggs. “Our voices naturally blended together. And then, because so much of what we write about is the dynamic between a man and a woman, we started to sing toward each other onstage. And that energy just grew. Then we’d sing out to the audience and encourage them to not just be passive listeners, but to be participants, an actual rhythmical part of the music. And that became a huge part of our identity. Our live show became our calling card everywhere we went.” And with their third full-length release, Fitz and the Tantrums have made an album that captures that jubilant, enraptured spirit. “We wanted to give people permission to lose control,” Fitz says. “We want the album to be a call to arms and for people to come to the church of the song.”
X Ambassadors
X Ambassadors
X Ambassadors’ debut album VHS reflects on the events that shaped lead vocalist and lyricist Sam Harris and his older brother, keyboardist Casey Harris’ life growing up in Ithaca, NY. “It was us looking back on everything that made us who we are,” says Sam. The gold-certified album, which Rolling Stone called “bombastic rock that’s as stomping as it is diaristic, leavened by big-tent pop hooks and a hint of hip-hop swagger,” debuted at No. 7 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart and spawned the platinum-selling “Renegades,” which spent 12 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Alternative chart, and the double-platinum “Unsteady,” which went Top 10 at Alternative, Hot AC, and Top 40 radio. The success of VHS sent X Ambassadors on a nearly two-year touring odyssey that found them winning over fans around the world and performing at the Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Life is Beautiful, and Shaky Knees festivals, among others, and establishing themselves as a world-class rock band.

Their rise has been studded by an impressive list of accomplishments. The band, which also includes Sam’s college friend, Los Angeles-raised drummer Adam Levin, were nominated for an iHeartRadio Music Award, two Teen Choice awards, two Billboard Music awards, and an American Music award. They guested on tracks by Eminem, The Knocks, Zedd, Skylar Grey, and Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, and their KIDinaKORNER labelmates Imagine Dragons (“Sucker for Pain”). “Collider,” a song they wrote with Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello, was chosen as the soundtrack to ESPN’s season-long college football marketing campaign. Sam co-wrote a song for Rihanna called “American Oxygen,” produced by Alex da Kid and Kanye West. And finally, at last year’s SXSW, Sam and Casey sat in with The Roots, performing two X Ambassadors songs and a cover of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me.” “That was a dream come true for me,” Sam says. X Ambassadors returned the favor by inviting The Roots to co-headline the band’s inaugural Cayuga Sound Festival, which takes place in Ithaca this fall. “We wanted to give back to the community that raised us,” Sam says of the festival, which is curated by the band, and also features K.Flay, The Knocks, and Tei Shi on the bill. Proceeds will be donated to the city’s Community School of Music and Arts, where Sam took music and dance lessons as a kid, along with other local programs and organizations.

Ithaca looms large in the story of X Ambassadors. Not only did it serve as major thematic inspiration on VHS, but Sam cites returning to their hometown to headline a sold-out fundraiser for the city’s State Theatre in May 2016 as one of his highlights of the last two years. “My teachers and mentors were there, my mom was there,” he recalls. “She came up on stage and sang ‘Georgia on My Mind’ with me while Casey accompanied us. It was really incredible. Everything kind of came full circle in that moment.”

Since coming off the road, X Ambassadors have been writing songs for their second album, pushing themselves to infuse each new song with a soulful feeling. “These are influences we’ve had forever — artists like Ray Charles, Joe Cocker, Otis Redding, and The Band — but I think I held back a lot on the last record,” he says. “I was so focused on coming up with something that would really open doors for us that I forgot to use my voice to its fullest extent.” Not any longer. The album’s first single, “Ahead of Myself,” is an impassioned, fervid song inspired by Sam’s tendency to jump into things before thinking them through. “That’s the story on paper, but in reality, it tells a much bigger story,” he says.

X Ambassadors’ fans got a taste of the band’s current sonic direction with three songs released earlier this year, the rollicking “The Devil You Know” (which was featured in a trailer for the upcoming Tom Cruise film American Made), the slow-burning “Torches” (which was heard in the film Transformers: The Last Knight), and the inspirational “Hoping,” which was written in the days after the presidential election. For six months, all proceeds from “Hoping” went to benefit the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is fighting Donald Trump’s immigration ban, among other things. X Ambassadors also performed at a benefit concert to support Planned Parenthood on the eve of International Women’s Day at the Roxy in Los Angeles in March.

“I believe that life and politics are inseparable,” Sam says. “And this is a time when a lot of people are feeling very scared, so to show a bit of solidarity can't hurt. And we really, truly believe in human rights and equal rights for everyone.”
Mikky Ekko
Mikky Ekko
Mikky Ekko has come home. After recording in places as far-flung as London, Stockholm, and Los Angeles, Ekko returned to the city that has proved both a permanent address and the creative sanctuary for his new album, Fame. It’s said that people have lucky cities, a geographic location where they seem to flourish or feel they are their best selves. Born in Louisiana and raised in small southern towns, Ekko believes Nashville is magic.

Let’s start with the title of the album, why “Fame”?

Fame is dirty and beautiful...like a crackhead in a ball- room gown. I’ve felt that way for a while, but I knew if I was creating an album around such an abstract concept I had to get my yin and yang balanced...really be transparent. The bitter and the sweet and the in- between, it’s all me, it’s all there. Ultimately, Fame is the truest representation of my sound and my perspec- tive. It’s the sound of me not compromising. Never, not once.

Was there a specific inspiration behind the album?

I was NEVER who I thought you were. I was NEVER who I thought you were. I was NEVER who I THOUGHT you were...It’s really hard for me to verbalize the self-re- flection that took place...at least in a conversational way. The album is me finding my way through a labyrinth and the emotions I experienced along the way. Anyone can fake it...it’s easy to put on hats, show people one thing and mime the rest...but at the end of the day you have to look at yourself in the mirror and say this is who I am, and I wanted to give people access to who I am with this album. Make your own way clear and help will find you...or it won’t, but at least you’ll know which way you’re going.

To some, working with producer Jay Joyce might seem like an unlikely paring. Can you discuss the collaboration?

My gut just told me that Jay [Joyce] gets the beautiful shit and the noisy punk shit and the shit in between and that he would just get it. You can hear all that shit in his records. Also, I was hell-bent on NO Plan B. When my label asked me who I wanted to produce if Jay wouldn’t do it, I said “Jay Joyce...or Jay Joyce...if he won’t do it then I don’t really know who is gonna do it.” Having a Plan B feels like cheating on the future...you can’t have it both ways.

What songs came first when setting out to make the record?

“Bitter” was the first song I wrote for the album and “Fame” was the second. When I played them back to back I knew that’s how it needed to start and end...and that from there I had to take people on the journey that was my life in between those two points. If you are not happy with your situation GET THE F*CK. OUT. Then do it your-F**KING-SELF. Get happy in YOUR situation.

Did you feel pressure after the success and atten- tion “Stay” brought?

The whole fairy tale thing lasted almost a year before things finally got back to normal... whatever that was. A lot of people expected me to hit the road with Rih or do more collaborations with other pop people. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should...and I spent a lot of time trying to balance who I should be vs. who I am. It was like a weird induction into a new high-school or something...when you’re surround- ed by something it’s hard not to think...“is this... maybe... who I am?” The easiest way for me to answer that ques- tion now is... no...but I needed all of that to write Fame, so I’m thankful.

The new album is your first since your debut in 2015, Time. Did you approach making this album differently than previously?

With Time I cared a LOT about the man in the mirror...and who HE needed to be to make Time work. And I’m okay with that...I like peo- ple to know where I’ve been. But with Fame my focus was on self-reflection...on do-it-yourself... on my sound and my voice...because f*ck a mirror - I wanna know me when I press play.
Venue Information:
Thompson’s Point
1 Thompson's Point
Portland, ME, 04102