The Evolution of fun.

It’s no secret I love fun. Actually, I adore fun. I love fun. so much that this past week I saw them in Salt Lake City, and then drove 13 hours to see them in Portland. And it was worth every minute. When I started to write this review, Sydne pointed out that I have a very unusual experience relating to fun.- I’ve seen them every step of the way as they’ve grown into a popular band. I’ve been at many memorable moments in the band’s history, and have seen them in 3 different states. The following review not only gives my opinion on the Most Nights tour, but takes you through the journey I’ve had watching fun. turn into a successful band.

The first time I saw fun. was when they were on tour with Paramore. I had no idea who they were, and they opened for the opener. I remember turning to my friend and saying “These guys are really talented” and “the lead singer’s pants are really tight”. And that’s all I thought about them. I went home, with 2 or 3 songs they had played and starting to listen to them. Slowly, I started adding to my collection. And then We Are Young came out. I’m not talking about when it was used on the super bowl or when glee covered it, I’m taking about when it came out almost an entire year earlier. I pre-ordered Some Nights, bought the last few songs I didn’t have off of Aim & Ignite and started to slowly fall in love with their sound. It wasn’t until I saw them live again that I realized how truly great they were. Sure their songs were catchy, the lyrics were creative and the orchestration was flawless, but when you see them live, they really come to life.

I saw them in Salt Lake City at In the Venue, the biggest Salt Lake City venue they had headlined. I was surprised when I got there, the line stretched around the block an hour before doors opened. For you New Yorkers let me explain a weird concept in Salt Lake City- we arrive to concerts early. Really early- I arrived 3 hours before the opener came on for their last concert in Salt Lake city and there were already 150 people ahead of me. That being said it wasn’t that unusual, but I was used to fun. being an obscure band that nobody knew. At this point, we were 2 months past the We Are Young super bowl commercial, so they were getting pretty big. Even with the line, I got a pretty good spot. My excitement was climbing as their opening band, Avalanche City, took down their set. Stage hands started taking down the black curtains that one by one spelled out a bold word- F U N. Unfortunately for them, the cloth over the N got stuck and wouldn’t come down, so we had a solid five minutes of staring at a large F U behind their set.

In The Venue

Photo by Aly Schwermer

They exploded onto stage with One Foot, an experience so jarring and wonderful that it forever became my favorite song off of Some Nights. Nate couldn’t stand still- jumping all around the stage, never staying in one spot and throwing and abusing his mic stand. During a slower song, the gambler, Nattie, Will and Emily go off stage leaving Nate Andrew and Jack to play the song acoustically. They always have something to say during this break, rambling on about something or another. My favorite moment from this concert was during barlights, where Nate made us scream at the top of our lungs “You know I, feel alive, feel alive!” so loud that I thought my lungs were going to burst. Going out of that concert I had a new found respect for them. It had been my first time seeing them knowing their songs and actually knowing the words. And with that knowledge came something magical- my first experience with the special connection they have with Salt Lake City and the connection between the people in the crowd.

Let me try to explain the Salt Lake City concept. Every time I have seen fun. in SLC, Nate has said that we are their best kept secret. When fun. was just getting started, they were playing tiny venues. They were touring playing to crowds of 8, 20, 16- and then they got to Kilby court in SLC and they were sold out. They’ve said that show in particular was a huge milestone for them on a tour where they were playing for so few people, to sell out gave them motivation to keep going. Given that history with Salt Lake City, they’ve always been excited to come here, and SLC has certainly been happy to have them.

The next time I saw them I was completely hooked. At this point they were solidly my favorite band. I got the amazing opportunity to see them at Radio City Music Hall the very first time they sold it out. Fun.  was formed in NYC, so it was a huge show for them. I had dreamed of going to Radio City Music Hall since I was a little girl, and to go see my favorite band at their first sold out show there was the best I could possibly ask for.

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Photo by Aly Schwermer

Walking into the venue with its rich red and gold colors, all the seats opening up before me it was everything I had dreamed. Sydne accompanied me to the concert, and we were in the 2nd row. I waited ever so impatiently as the people who got there at a normal time piled in. This time it wasn’t 6 people on a small stage with a banner in the back spelling out F U N . it was an elaborate stage with LED screens, synchronized lights and video feed. At one point during the concert, Nate jumped off the stage and climbed the empty balconies lining the walls of the venue. It took the person controlling the lights a moment to figure out what he was doing, but then it was Nate- standing above the crowd with a single spotlight. This moment is something that sticks in my head as one of my favorite moments from any concert ever. He looked out over the crowd and sang lyrics from Some Nights “So this is it, I sold my soul for this- washed my hands of that for this, I miss my mom and dad for this?”. The way these lyrics are sung on the recording are relatively pessimistic, saying this is all? This is what I’ve worked all these years for? But in that moment, standing over the crowd singing those words you could tell that he was amazed as we were, and that it was worth every sacrifice the band had ever made.

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Photo by Sydne Wheeler Larsen

Then came the MOST NIGHTS tour. I went to a venue in Salt Lake City called The Great Saltair. Although The Great Saltair isn’t my favorite venue due to the bad sound quality, I was surprised to find that they had set the stage up outside right on the lake. Tegan and Sara opened, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed their almost hour long set. And then the anticipation came. Finally, it began. The lights went dark and a medley of their songs began to play, the crowd going crazy even as the stage stayed dark. Suddenly Nate, Jack and Andrew were on stage, a single spotlight on the three of them in tux’s. They sang “Some Nights (Intro)” before the whole band exploded onto the stage with One foot. The concert went on with an even mix of the band and fan’s favorites, A Rolling Stone cover, and one of my favorites that they hadn’t played on recent tours, Take Your Time (Coming Home).

Let’s rewind a little. Nate himself has said before that it is expected that if you go to a fun. concert, it’s the normal that you know all the words and sing along. While I was waiting for Tegan and Sara to come on, the people behind me had a conversation that went a little like this:

Have you heard of these fun. guys?

Yeah they have that one We Are Young song?

And what others?

That one song- on the Wreck it Ralph commercial? Some Nights or something?

Oh yeah! And The one Carry song?

And then during the concert they screamed

Play Wreck It Ralph!

I found this frustrating. Perhaps I shouldn’t have, they paid for a ticket same as me to see them and it wasn’t like it was my concert. But the defining thing about a fun. concert is a sense of unity amongst the crowd. As I mentioned with my experience at In The Venue, there’s something special about fun. crowds. There’s something so magical about the crowd knowing when, how, and where to clap and sing without the singer having to tell you. Something magical about the band being able to count on the crowd to sing the harmony without them asking, and these people didn’t know that.

That being said, I am certainly not trying to detour people who don’t know them well to not go to their concerts. After all, I was that person and look where it got me. No, I’m not expecting them to become your favorite band after you see them live, but I do know that if you understand a good concert, you will appreciate them more. Just don’t be that person that screams “Play the Wreck it Ralph song!”.

Moving on, 5 days later I saw them in Portland. And I was the closest I’ve ever been at a fun. concert, right on the barricade, nothing between me and the band. It was a dream come true being that close, and I was amazing with how even 5 days later, they were so personal with the Portland crowd, not repeating anything they had said in Salt Lake City. I know enough not to believe that every artist doesn’t try to make a city feel that way and then go somewhere else and say the same thing- if they even know what city they are in until 10 minutes before the show- but I’ve been to many a fun show in many states, and I can say with confidence, every show is executed with a personal connection between fun. and that particular crowd. They truly say something new every night.

With this tour, the stage has not progressed further than it was in New York City, besides one element during barlights. I debated writing about this part for fear of spoiling it, but I’ve tried to highlight some of my favorite moments from each concert, and this was the moment from the Portland concert that still stands out the most. In the end I decided that even writing about it and posting pictures couldn’t spoil it, because there’s no way I could accurately describe it. During barlights, giant confetti cannons launch tens of thousands of pieces of paper into the air. This moment froze in time for me, making me feel like a little kid again, in awe of something so magical.

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Photo by Ali Capener

So where does that leave us? Fun. is currently on the last stretch of their Most Nights tour before heading back into the studio to record their new album- and I couldn’t be more excited. Many people have said to me “fun.’s popularity is just a phase, it’s not going to last long” and although I don’t know if this is true or not, I don’t care. If popularity is defined by radio play, I couldn’t care less. I’ve been to so many of their concerts now, with so many different crowds and I’ve felt the magic there. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to experience the magic you feel at a fun. concert with any other artist. With fun. going back into the studio, I have no expectations. I have no idea what their new album will sound like, no idea what it will be called or when it will come out. But I do know one thing: I will love it. I don’t want to take away from how great their studio albums are, how the lyrics are vital to every live show, and I couldn’t be more excited to get new music from them. But as long as fun. is touring, I know they will continue to be my favorite band. Because one thing I know for sure, is that magic I’ve been talking about? It will never die.  

– Aly

Want to know more about fun.? Click here for my list of top ten things you need to know about them.

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