fun. - Warehouse Live, Houston 20/03/12
High school kids, simultaneous hand-clapping, a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd, and crawfish? How can I even begin to explain this concert?
It was a school night, of all nights at one of my favorite local venues and already at two hours prior until doors opened, an anticipated crowd for the sold-out fun. show, wrapped around the block; average age: 14-18. By the time I made my way through to catch a glimpse of Kiwi openers, Avalanche City, all I could hear were distant screams from what sounded like first-time concert goers or die-hard fans. As the night progressed I eventually found out it was thankfully the latter. I'll admit I'm pretty hesitant when going to any all ages show but teenagers really know what's in the music scene these days, and they're to say the least the most loyal fans (speaking from past experience).
Avalanche City was quite a surprise because they were much suited for a opener that The Format would consider. I'm guessing Nate Ruess had a lot to do with that decision. Their sound was much more mature and laid-back than fun. Every song was an upbeat, folk-inspired sound that took a lot influence from the likes of current favorites, Mumford & Sons.
An hour had now passed and the venue was packed to the brim from exit to exit and bar to bar, it was exactly 9 p.m. and the crowd was semi-restless singing along to transitional hip-hop tunes. Nate and the rest of his gang break through the stage and plunge into the expected high-energy and fun-ess of fun. Having been fans of Ruess and The Format, Dost and Anathallo, and Antonoff and Steel Train, these guys have the talents to venture out on anything and easily create a distinct and enjoyable sound.
With a life-size FUN. backdrop set against the band on stage there was no other gimmick or promotional tool these guys needed to elevate their 1.5 hour set. "This is our biggest show yet, here in Houston, so I want a crowd this large to sound like one ... sing-along, let me here you!" Ruess repeatedly demanded. And just like a large crowd would sound like, let alone filled with devoted fans, I too tried to keep up with Ruess' vocals on every track -- which was impossible. Given Ruess' past and toned-down folk/acoustic sound of The Format and the transition to fun., he's been hiding this arena voice and confident stage presence from everyone. His voice has always been unique on its own but with an uptempo new project and brand new album Some Nights, there surely is going to be more sold-out shows in the future.
The band played a non-stop set list of brand new tracks from Some Nights that were all crowd pleasers. 'Carry On,' 'Why Am I The One,' 'It Gets Better,' and classic 'All the Pretty Girls' were instant sing-alongs accompanied by Ruess' non-stop hand-clapping that stirred the crowd crazy. The much anticipated current chart-topper of the night, 'We are Young' had convinced to everyone how professional the entire live band was. Witnessing the track live made you feel special to be lucky enough check these guys out maybe for just one night, at sold-out show. Before the the band took a break, Ruess and Antonoff wanted some Texan opinion about crawfish. "We have this pet crawfish on tour with us now, if anyone wants to give it a home, we want volunteers ... just don't eat it!" Being a staple down here in the south, the band apparently found a live crawfish wandering near their tour bus so they decided to share this anecdote and maybe make a one lucky fan very happy.
"We want fun.!" the crowd chanted for a closing encore. And we got it! Nate Ruess, completely humbled throughout the entire night finished the night with fitting 'All Alright' and sang with such passion until the last note. "Thank you so much for coming out and be sure to get home safely." Ruess conservatively stated as he left the stage with the rest of the band.
The most surprising part of the show that shocked me was the fact that even how impressive Some Nights is, it doesn't do itself justice as seeing the band live. Anyone could say this with any other band, but this was rare for me. Seeing fun. live was a completely eye-opening experience. I was proven that Nate Ruess has to be one of the best vocalists right now, the collaboration with Antonoff and Dost has to be one of the smartest moves, and I can now see why this band attracts a younger audience, because fun. is just fun! I'm also thankful these guys are finally getting the long overdue recognition they deserve.