Having played their biggest show as a band in front of a home crowd at New York City’s Webster Hall on Saturday, fun. met with a more intimate atmosphere at La Sala Rossa last night. But the small crowd didn’t stop the band from putting on a monstrous set, along with strong performances by supporting acts The Postelles and Steel Train (whose lead singer Jack Antonoff is also a member of fun.).
Fun. launched into action with their album opener “Be Calm,” ironically sending the crowd into a frenzy, with theatrical moments of suspense leading up to singer Nate Ruess’s sky-high vocal sections which he executed with ease throughout the night.
“I think we’re at our best when we’re trying to do what Queen did, trying to be really loud, really over the top but also really intense and passionate,” said guitarist Jack Antonoff before the show. “All my favourite bands are over the top without being silly. Queen’s a perfect example. I also love the Arcade Fire.”
Fun.’s many influences shine through during their live shows. Many of their songs are unexpectedly punctuated by pauses and build-ups which leave the crowd hanging in a moment of wonderful suspense. The tightness of the six-piece live band is impressive during these moments where the elaborate musical arrangements, which are written by main members Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff, really become apparent.
“It’s not really a hard transition [from the studio to live shows],” said Antonoff. “If we’re working on our song, I’ll play drums, Andrew will play guitar and Nate will sing, so everything is crafted in mind of what it’s going to feel like live.”
As entertaining as it was to listen to fun. play through the songs from their debut album Aim and Ignite, equally amusing were their playful stage banter between songs and the games Ruess played with the crowd. He would attempt to stump them with complex vocal melodies which they loyally chanted back to him.
“They’re so great,” said one avid fun. fan. “It doesn’t matter if they’re playing to 100 people or 1,000, they still put everything they have into the show.” It isn’t hard to see why this is so. Clearly, the band loves what they do and this is encouraging to up-and-coming artists.
“I think it’s an exciting time to be in a band,” said Antonoff. “It’s also a time when people appreciate good music. There are so many avenues for great music to be discovered. It’s like an octopus [right] now. It’s not this tunnel vision of getting a label and getting big. I think all the young bands should just follow in the footsteps of all the movers and shakers of the new generation, like Radiohead [who put] out their own record and bands that do their own tours.”
After about an hour of playing, fun.’s set crashed to a close and the band left the stage, only to be brought back by the crowd’s spirited cheers of “Lets have fun!” The encore could not have started any better as Ruess’ passionate singing on the ballad “The Gambler” gave the impression he was personally directing the song to every single person in the half-filled hall. The show appropriately ended with an extended version of their album closer “Take Your Time (Coming Home),” during which Ruess jumped down into the crowd and danced among his fans.
“Bruce Springsteen said something the other day in an interview that really resonated with me,” said Antonoff. “He said the best bands [and] the best artists are the ones that create cultures. I think that’s brilliant. My favourite bands, really everyone’s favourite bands, are the ones that are more than just bands, they’re a lifestyle. It’s a feeling more than it is just the band.”
Judging by the crowd’s response to fun.’s first Montreal show, it seems as though the group has planted the seeds of a culture of its own.
“My favourite part of touring is nights like tonight,” said Antonoff “I love it here. It’s so nice to be in Montreal.”
Fun.’s North American tour ends Dec. 13, after which they will set to work on a new album. Hopefully, we will see them back in Montreal next year.