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In concert, The Happy Fits showcase the beauty of positive and negative emotions alike

Courtesy of Amanda Wu
Frontman of The Happy Fits, Calvin Langman, dazzles Cleveland with his spectacular cello and vocal skills.

On Sunday, Oct. 22, the indie rock band The Happy Fits performed at the House of Blues in downtown Cleveland.

Blasting off with “Do Your Worst” from their newest album, “Under the Shade of Green,” The Happy Fits reinvigorated the Cleveland indie rock scene with fervent energy. The frontman of the band, Calvin Langman, immediately electrified the audience with his iconic cello—a unique instrument when it comes to contemporary rock concerts.

Classically-trained cellist Langman, guitarist Ross Monteith and drummer Luke Davis originally attended the same New Jersey high school. In 2016, shortly after the success of their first EP, “Awfully Apeelin’,” they dropped out of college to pursue music full-time.

Monteith and Davis stepped out of the 2023 fall tour due to personal health concerns. The cellist did not “Dance Alone,” however, whirling around the stage with fellow musicians Nicole Rosey, Raina Mullen and Trevor Hogan. The band covered nearly half of the country, performing in 23 states ranging from Maine to California to, of course, Ohio.

The setlist featured throwbacks from their 2018 “Concentrate”, including heavy-hitters such as “Best Tears,” “Mary” and “Heart of a Dancer.” From their 2020 album, “What Could Be Better,” The Happy Fits declared that there were truly “No Instructions” with music—just to let loose and keep on “Moving.”

Their most recent album was a response to the seemingly endless onslaught of catastrophic events and crises in modern society. It invited listeners to share and vent their frustrations about the state of the world. Yet, instead of consistently lingering on the everyday anxieties that submerge our perspectives and induce tunnel vision, the band maintains an irresistible groove that offers an optimistic outlook on the rampant nihilism of contemporary media.

During the show, Langman captured the admiration of a transfixed crowd, instilling them with a new, raw energy whenever he danced and shredded on the cello. There was little semblance of anger or sadness in the music itself; instead, The Happy Fits channeled our everyday frustrations and discontent into passion.

To an extent, that’s what’s especially alluring about The Happy Fits. Its name suggests joy all around. Upbeat tunes, joyous melodies and lyrics that marvel at life’s many delights are, presumably, expected. However, for happiness to truly fit in the ever-changing landscape of life, every other emotion must be accepted on its own terms and allotted space to exist. “Under the Shade of Green” provides just that—from the melancholic, Sisyphus-esque climb of “Another Try” to the fast-paced, anxiety-ridden belt of “Around and Around,” it offers a solution to the negative influences in ourselves and the world around us. This album does not hinge on the false promise of an easy route to achieve happiness. Nor does it neglect negative emotions altogether. Rather, it synthesizes an upbeat rhythm with melancholic lyrics, ultimately accepting the necessity of negative emotions for happiness to thrive.

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