It was a bit chilly out as a large crowd of Millennials and Gen Zs waited to enter Cat’s Cradle to watch The Happy Fits, and their openers Phoneboy and Daisy the Great. The music venue is perfectly situated in the heart of UNC’s Chapel Hill campus, and we were all pleased when the doors finally opened, and thankful the staff did an excellent job at getting everyone inside quickly.
THE HAPPY FITS
LIVE at CAT’S CRADLE
December 13, 2022
There were actually quite a few young children in the crowd. Most were feeling pretty cool by staying up late on a school night, perhaps even catching their first concert.
The venue was not overly packed at this point, though there was a nice little crowd as Phoneboy took the stage.
Phoneboy is a New Jersey trio with an indie-rock vibe, and has been touring with The Happy Fits for the past six weeks. If you’re a fan of Wyn Barnum (guitar/vocals), Ricky Dana (guitar/vocals), and James Fusco (bass), you know they just released a single called “Runaway.” Their song “Acid Girl” gave them a lot of exposure back in 2019, and they played it along with “1987,” “Sweater Song,” “Roses,” and “Nevermind.”
Towards the middle of the song “Fomo,” Barnum and Dana showed off their ability to be perfectly synched, and the harmonious sound coming from the stage was remarkable. A lot of “fuck”s were shouted, but so were a lot of “thank you”s directed towards The Happy Fits for allowing them to open.
Daisy the Great, a six-member Brooklyn-based band featuring lead singers Kelley Nicole Dugan and Mina Walker was the second opener. Daisy the Great commented on their recently released second studio album titled, “All You Need Is Time.”
Prior to almost every song, they would engage with the crowd and explain the purpose of each song. “You guys wanna jump around? Anyone have a crush on their friend, like a brutal crush that hurts,” Walker asked the audience prior to starting the song “Liar,” then told everyone to go hard. Then, they changed the tempo to a slower, quiet beat while Dugan and Walker sang “Tell Me Have You Been Dancing,” a song about missing someone. They also played “Cry in the Mirror,” which ended with the band members having a free for all onstage as they jumped around, Dugan beating on the drums while Walker was on the ground; it was AH-MAZING!
By this time, the venue was a jam-packed as more Happy Fits fans had piled in. The main attraction, the fan favorite, The Happy Fits, finally emerged. In an instant, the lights shone, Calvin Langman, Ross Monteith, and Luke Davis became very animated, incorporating a large jump kick before the band went into their first song of the night, “Around and Around.” The next hit was “Moving,” and fair warning, this song will easily get stuck in your head and you will find yourself singing along to it as you look like a bobblehead moving to the beat.
After “Changes,” “Dance Alone,” and “Dirty Imbecile,” they played “Mary,” which features a more punk rock, hard-core beat, making it one of the songs their fans love the most.
Doing a 180, the band jumped into “Sweet Things,” and I couldn’t help but correlate the sound and rhythm to that of Houndmouth. The Happy Fits have a few of these bluesy songs mixed into their more traditional indie/rock style. Langman sat on the edge of the stage and dangled his feet off as he sang parts of this song.
They also played “Cold Turkey,” “In the Lobby,” and “Heart of a Dancer.” The last song before they exited the stage was “Grow Back,” though they were only gone for a second before playing three more songs during their encore: “Hold Me Down,” “So Alright, Cool, Whatever,” and “Too Late.”
There were so many things that took place during The Happy Fits’ 90-minute set. During the capitalism song, “In the Lobby,” Monteith shot fake money out of a machine towards the audience. They blasted the sound up at one point to make sure the vibrations shook the walls and floors so that everyone could feel the music in their bones. A short speech was made about inclusion and basic human rights with regard to the LGBTQ community.
The Happy Fits put on a fantastic show and are very entertaining to watch. You can tell they genuinely love their fans and are doing what they enjoy.
You really have to see them in person to get the full effect of the unique sound that comes from the use of the cello. The way Calvin Langman walks around onstage with the cello hanging off him is almost comical, but then his bow slides across those strings and his ability to maneuver it as he jams out and bounces across the stage is very impressive. If you were lucky enough, he would single you out, point his bow to you, and belt out a portion of the song.
These three bands should be commended for their eagerness to connect with their fans and have genuine conversations. Just before one of Phoneboy’s songs, the band members called each other out for carrying on a sidebar conversation with an audience member instead of focusing on starting the next song; he offered to wait while they finished talking.
Fans were giving gifts and sending messages, and each band would take a moment to recognize the gift or message and say thanks. The Happy Fits even had the entire venue sing “Happy Birthday” to a fan. It’s no wonder they have such a loyal fanbase that is growing daily.