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Come On, Have Some Fun.

article & photography by John Powell

There’s buzz around New York’s Fun. The crowds that come out for their live shows seem to have tripled in recent months. “We saw them last year,” says fan Jon from New Jersey. “We were surprised when the line was out the door.”

Genna agrees. “I didn’t know this many people know them.” It’s Molly from Northfield, Vermont that has an insight. “I love their harmonies.” And Nathan adds, “It’s a really high voice.”

So, yes, Nate Ruess has an alto with the sort of grit and note-abiding deadeye shots that sounds like Elton John or Freddy Mercury- a man that unzips his heart for every song. He lays it out as if splaying his whole being, and no matter what word he’s singing, it’s like that word is the most important connection between his psychosis, the real world, and the audience. It’s as if Nate found your diary and is singing your own thoughts to you. Maybe it’s that reliability that’s caused the buzz.

Maybe it’s that they have sewn together the right amount of glitz, indie oomph, and arena hoopla. They sound at once in your living room and in front of a hundred thousand. The original members, including Nate, Andrew Dost on keys, and Jack Antonoff on guitar, have tacked on Will Noon on drums, Nate Harold on bass, and Emily Moore on keys.

It could be Emily- who is shockingly beautiful and strums her rock acoustic guitar like she’s nowhere near aware of how one look causes audience members to melt- or her intermittent duet bits with Nate. Her energy alone brings the room up. The band is so tight, too. Their live show sheds the gloss finish that their new album, Some Nights, has. You wouldn’t think they incorporate auto tune, synth drums, and overdubbed vocals. All you see in front of you is a group, each playing their freaking souls out. Jack shreds live in a way he never got to on the album. The mix of electric and acoustic guitars is fruitful. The drums make the folksiness into disco-rock bliss. It’s not like anything out there now.

Fun.

Remember Third Eye Blind? Fun. has their set up: a man with a microphone spouting poetry a mile a minute, unfettered by another instrument, just his voice tuned in to the heartbeats of each teenage girl that clutches her chest in exasperated gratitude. Add in a band that plays with everything they got, holding on to the happier memories of an unstable adulthood. Nate could be a pretty boy. Any of them could be. Nate Harold has some punk flare and Will Noon’s curly hair is like that smart guy with a dirty side. Instead, they’re just real, swearing on stage, humble.

Their song “We Are Young” appeared on a car commercial and everyone learned the name Fun., but was that cause to get on the bandwagon? It wasn’t, but it was reason to give them a listen and see them live. That’s the hook. Their live show is ferocious. They power through tracks off their new album, (stopping to goof on “Me and Julio”). They have some cool lights, a great mix of organic sounds and synths, and they traverse punk rock to dance pop, and seem dedicated to every moment.

Fun. is the band a group of teenage friends will find together and will be a reminder of a certain set of memories, a summer of mistakes and adventure. Yet it’s apparent that before they step on stage with flourish, banter, and a sweeping roller coaster of a show, that the songs were built to perfection in the basement. These songs weren’t written to move audiences. They were written to unravel the human condition, to understand what family, friends, drugs, and Life itself all mean, and only afterward are the fun feathers attached.

That train of events rolls into a popular station, populated by a score of people searching inside themselves for answers, but whereas many bands in this position could be self- deprecating, Fun. lives up to their name. There’s a story deeper than the songs here, a serene camaraderie, like these people have seen some shit together and it’s worth talking about.

Their concerts are shockingly powerful. Changing. Chemistry. So maybe that’s the buzz, or maybe it’s just because their shows are a whole hell of a lot of Fun. Period.


 

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