Before he became the lead singer of "MoneyGrabber" band Fitz and the Tantrums and was performing on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live," "Fitz" was Michael Fitzpatrick — son of former Museum of Contemporary Art director and CEO Robert Fitzpatrick. Robert Fitzpatrick held the position from 1998 to 2008, making him the longest-running director to date.
Michael Fitzpatrick returns to the MCA on Saturday, this time to perform with his neo-soul indie band at the Gold Coast museum's artEdge fundraiser. In past years, the MCA's annual gala has featured live performances by George Clinton, Rufus Wainwright and Patti Smith.
"I got to know Chicago even before the band started touring," said Fitzpatrick, a Los Angeles native, Monday over the phone from Miami. "I was always coming for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Chicago ended up being one of the best places for (Fitz and the Tantrums). I think it's our No. 1 place to play."
(Flattery aside, the band did play three sold-out shows at Metro in 2011 and has taken the stage at Lollapalooza and the Taste of Chicago. It also played the 10-year anniversary party for the Tribune-owned RedEye in November.)
Fitzpatrick might not have followed in his father's footsteps but he said he's always had an eye for the visual. That's one of the reasons the former film school student looks forward to the album cover and music video shoots coming his band's way as it prepares for the follow-up to 2010's "Pickin' Up the Pieces," which is scheduled to hit stores in early May.
"I love the visual component and the aesthetics of it all," Fitzpatrick said. "It works another part of my brain. It lets me get my other creative juices flowing."
The album itself is already done. In fact, it's already past the "O.C.D." stage, as Fitzpatrick called it, where tweaks are made after the fact. Now the band is preparing for promotion and touring. Fitzpatrick, who shares vocal duties with Noelle Scaggs, the group's lone female, said he and his bandmates have been in rehearsals for weeks practicing their new songs and trying to figure out the best way to play them live.
As anyone who has seen Fitz and the Tantrums live can tell you, they make it a point to mix things up so that the songs don't sound the exact same way they do on the album.
"We hit the road pretty hard," Fitzpatrick said. "The live show for us has been such a huge part of our success. It's how we built the band's great fanbase. We put on the hottest, sweatiest, knockdown show every time and built a rep for it. People tell other people 'You have to see this band — they kill it live.'
"We've had a lot of success the last couple years, but there are still a lot of people who don't know our band. I love going to play in front of an audience that doesn't know us and winning them over."
Fitz and the Tantrums
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E Chicago Avenue
Tickets: $1,000 for dinner and concert ($150 for concert only) at 312-397-3868 or mcachicago.org/artedge