When I interviewed Fun. at the end of February, I asked them what we could expect from their upcoming tour, and when Andrew Dost’s first answer was that they would have a new light show, I was underwhelmed. A light show wasn’t what I was expecting him to say. (Granted, he did say right after that to expect incredible singing from Nate Ruess. That got me a bit more excited, admittedly.)
Fast forward to March 28th. Fun. was performing at The Independent in San Francisco and I was given the opportunity to go check out the show and see what Andrew was talking about. After a beautiful opener by Avalanche City, the stage was cleared off and set up with Fun.’s equipment. The clock was ticking and it was clear to see that the crowd was getting anxious for Fun. take the stage. Suddenly the lights dimmed and the band came out onto the stage. What is typically a band of three was a band of six — Nate (vocals), Andrew (keys), Jack (guitar), and an extra drummer, vocalist/guitarist, and bass player. Upon arrival, the lights shone on Andrew, sitting at the keyboard and playing a trumpet into the microphone for the start of the second single release off of Some Nights, “One Foot.” It was right at that moment that I had a bit of an epiphany. All of the sudden, Andrew’s comment about the light show made perfect sense. The lights were incredible. In an intimate venue, a light show makes all of the difference. It brought so much spunk to the stage that was already overflowing with personality due to six incredible performers. Blues, greens, reds, yellows, whites, oranges…they shone down on the band as they jumped around the stage playing their music.
And then, a song would end and the stage would go black. There was something magical in that moment. For whatever reason, my heart skipped a beat every time it happened. Something about seeing the band members in full force one second, and then in an instant, they were invisible. But I knew they were still there. I suppose it might have had something to do with the idea of them eventually leaving the stage and actually being gone…it was a preview of the separation anxiety that was to come, but in those moments, I knew that the lights would be back in a couple more seconds, and again I would be exposed to some of the best live performers I’ve yet to see in my life. It’s really hard to put these feelings into words, so if this isn’t resonating at all with you, just know this: I was sitting there, by myself, giddy like a child and overflowing with excitement. I can’t quite put a finger on why. But it was happening. And I was loving it.
The second part of Andrew’s preview of the show was an understatement. Sure, he told me Nate Ruess can sing like a motherfucker, but that didn’t do his voice justice. Nor did it give me any warning of what a superb performer Nate is. From the very first second he stepped on the stage, he appeared to be a breathing version of a bundle of energy. He’s skinny, he’s hip, and he’s a funking monkey. To emphasize his excitement, he would throw the microphone from one hand to the other, he would jump a couple feet into the air, and his smile…he smiled the whole fucking time. Well, with the exception of the sad songs. He sang those too.
They played a great mix of songs old and new. From their 2010 album Aim and Ignite, they played Be Calm, All The Pretty Girls, At Least I’m Not As Sad, Walking The Dog, Barlights, The Gambler, Take Your Time, and perhaps one more that I’m now forgetting. From Some Nights, they played Some Nights, We Are Young, Carry On, It Gets Better, All Alone, All Alright, One Foot, and again, maybe another song or two that are now slipping my mind. And what more? The entire room seemed to know every single one of these songs. It was truly incredible. And though I’ve known most of these songs for a while now, it was a different experience seeing it live. The energy was real. The emphasis on the juxtaposition between songs on Some Nights was breathtaking. Hearing Nate sing “if you’re lost and alone or you’re sinking like a stone, carry on” in front of a room full of 21+ hardcore fans singing “carry on” right alongside him was really stunning.
Clearly my mind was blown throughout the course of the night. I’m not sure my words can do it justice, frankly. As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m having to readjust myself in my chair every few seconds because I’m finding myself bouncing around getting excited just thinking about what an incredible show it was. I have a smile on my face, my eyes are wide, and I’m listening to Fun. as I type, singing along, sometimes taking breaks to sing. But I quickly get back to writing, because I have just so much to say. It’s exciting. Fuck…writing about it is exciting! So…well, FUN!
There are songs from the album that I didn’t love. Let’s take “It Gets Better,” for example. Wasn’t feeling it when I reviewed the album. But shit. Live? I fucking loved it. “It gets better, it gets better, it gets better, we’ll get better.” Do you know how empowering it is to be singing that at the top of your lungs along with a room with 500+ people? And with Nate leading the pack. Shit. It was unreal.
Some highlights of the night, you ask? Well, for one, I fell in love with the bass guitarist. That boy was hot. And by god, he could destroy a bass guitar. I’m not kidding when I say this, though it sounds like a bold claim from a girl who’s newly in love, but this was the best performing bass guitarist I’ve ever seen. The energy he put into every single pull of the strings was not only apparent, it was contagious. Beyond that, another highlight was when Nate would talk between the songs. In one of his breaks, he asked the room if this was truly a 21+ show. We cheered, and he took that as his chance to tell everybody to take a moment and scream profanities at the top of their lungs for the next 20 seconds. Why the hell not? So we did it, and it was awesome. That’s just how the night went. I arrived at the concert by myself that night, and I walked out with a couple new friends, because everybody under the roof was in the same state of bliss, we might as well have all been family for the night. The band, too. They were family. Seeing Nate Ruess look out at the crowd with gratitude in his eyes, and his smile, yeah. He was family too.
At this point, when I listen to their music, it’s a different feeling than it was before. I already loved it, but now it’s intimate. It’s personal. It’s more fun and more emotional than it used to be. I feel, at times, like Nate is still right there singing to me when I hear it now. Between this concert and the Perfume Genius concert I saw a couple nights before, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such moving shows. If Fun. is coming to a venue near you, and you don’t go out of your way to at least try to get tickets, you might be out of your mind. I promise you, you’ll regret it if you don’t go. Get off your ass for a night, even if you can’t find anybody to go with you, and go watch them perform. It’s a show, and it’s a fucking blast. You’ll thank me later. And you’ll likely walk away with some new friends and a newfound love for Fun.
*I apologize for the profanity in the post. It just happens when I get this excited. And for the poor quality of photos and videos – I was having too much fun.
Somehow, with this remix, acclaimed producer Alvin Risk managed to recreate the magic of the original “We Are Young.” I don’t know about you, but this remix has won Fun. a spot back into my music rotation. I think Alvin added just enough flare to the instrumental for that soaring chorus to once again…soar (despite the radio’s attempts to ruin it forever). I’m a peacock; you gotta let me fly.
I got the chance to talk with Andrew Dost of Fun., a young band that is quickly becoming one of the more popular young bands on the scene today. The hit single (“We Are Young”) from their upcoming album, Some Nights, was featured on a Chevy ad during the Superbowl and their fame escalated even further. Some people know the band from one of the band members’ previous band, The Format, and others are seeing this as a breath of fresh air in a world of indie rock that can often be seen as muddled and unoriginal. Andrew talked to me about the band’s origins, where he sees them in the future, his favorite cities to perform in, his inspirations and favorite artists, Some Nights, their tour, and more.
I tried something different this time, since I often find myself skimming over interviews because I don’t have time to read the whole thing. So this time around, it’s an audio file. What do you think – is this a better way to go about things?
In eager anticipation to hear the full album by young indie pop band Fun., comprised of Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost, and Jack Antonoff, I sat down, turned off all surrounding distracters, pressed play and listened. I listened again and again, allowing my ears and my emotions to soak up the cacophony of noises. What I found was a theatrical and often orchestral album that led me through a dramatic journey filled with sonic highs and lows that were mirrored perfectly with the numerous lyrical themes throughout the album, which also reach peaks and pitfalls and carry with them the emotional resonances of rising and falling over and over again. Each song seems to create its own path up and down a mountain, climbing, slipping, falling, skidding and rising once more. But when I take a step back and look at the collection as one entity, I see myself sitting in a lush, velvet, cushioned chair in an antique theatre adorned with classic fixtures shining down on a band writing a story about love, loss, victory, defeat, self-pity, self-discovery and self-question. It’s a musical, and we’re all invited to sing along, to join the march, to step under the bright lights and discover ourselves.
Fun. started after the demise of lead singer Ruess’s popular band The Format, so the bar was set high for them. Furthermore, by naming themselves Fun., they formed an aura of celebratory demeanor that would expectedly be delivered in their music. They have certainly been making a name for themselves in the American indie pop world, having shared the stage with groups like Jack’s Mannequin, Paramore, and Janelle Monae and earning comparisons to bigger bands like Panic! at the Disco. They’ve been featured on Glee, on the Slammy’s and on Nylon Magazine’s online site. And now, with the release of their new album, Some Nights, on February 21 of 2012, I can only imagine that Fun. will be taking one more step toward the spotlight.
As this album circulates and reaches the ears and eyes of critics and fans alike, I imagine many will draw the comparison that I have, in that the album is orchestral, cinematic, harmonic, and grandiose. It will receive the applauses that you can hear throughout the album as they take us on a musical journey similar to what you might hear in a Rent or a Mamma Mia. The theatrical and dramatic patterns of ups and downs, acapellas and harmonizations are too obvious to ignore, and so we will not. The varied influences — tribal beats, youthful sing-alongs, production-laden vocals — carry us through the album, discovering one another as unexpectedly as we do, and that’s not a small accomplishment.
…the album is orchestral, cinematic, harmonic, and grandiose
Songs like “Some Nights Intro” guide us into the halls of mystery (perhaps an alias for the collective Fun.’s mind) that lead us through the entire collection of songs, bringing surprises oftentimes as abruptly as somebody jumping out around a corner with a scream. Other times, it’s a friendly morphing and gentle transition into the next wave of noises. On this opening track, we’re lead slowly into a tunnel of sounds that builds as we go deeper, becoming a symphonic creation that we may not quite understand, but we feel. It’s dramatic. It’s alluring. It’s a messy painting, but it creates a clear picture of losing one’s mind slowly in the night. “Lately I’ve been fucking crazy.” Yeah, and we’re just getting started.
We transition smoothly into songs like “Some Nights” and “We Are Young,” which both carry bursts of majestic sonic qualities without veering into the bombastic. Instead we’re left with gems that are big, deep, exotic and percussive. Electric guitars, hollow and tubular percussion, angst-filled vocal patterns, victorious piano chord progressions, varying speeds accompany us on a path back and forth between self-doubt and self-assurance. “Some Nights” depicts a blurry mind unsure of oneself: ‘But I still wake up/ I still see your ghost/ Lord I’m still not sure what I stand for/ What do I stand for?/ What do I stand for? Most nights, I don’t know.’ “We Are Young,” though, is a journey; it’s a parading stampede with our noses in the air, at once pretentiously and humbly marching toward our not-so-distant futures while maintaining the lightness of our youth. ‘Tonight/ We are young/ So I set the world on fire/ We can burn brighter/ Than the sun.’ I march right alongside these triumphant vocals, finding myself stopping dead in my tracks and collapsing at the last line that escapes into near-acapella and brings the tone to something far less than victorious, perhaps even gut-wrenching.
…bursts of majestic sonic qualities without veering into the bombastic. Instead we’re left with gems that are big, deep, exotic and percussive
With “Carry On,” we are given a story with a moral of perseverance: ‘May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground/ Carry on.’ We have climbed a steady hill and again reach triumph, being reminded to carry on. We march on. Fun. is leading the pack. Our pace builds, we start clapping, tapping our feet, bobbing our heads, and singing along. We cut left, we slide right, we ascend and we descend, and we do not look back. Until, anyway, we hit the fifth track, “It Gets Better.”
And then, out of nowhere, we hit an intermission. This is where the album splits and crashes into the dullest tracks. The sound that was coming so easily and smoothly suddenly becomes forced, harsh. It’s still an interesting story, but the group ventures too far into the pop realm, finding themselves unable to continue treading water in the deep end. It’s as though they’re trying to pull from left field on this track with a different and more electronic sound, but instead it veers too far toward mainstream –far more than anything else on their album — which on one hand accentuates the incredible parts of the other songs, but simultaneously brings this one down.
As we get to “Why Am I The One,” I find myself dragging my legs on the journey – the building and falling pattern is becoming a bit repetitive; it’s losing its charm. Luckily, Fun. picks up where they left off a few songs back at “All Alone.” This song starts with an open mind – it crosses genres, sounding similar to a hip-hop instrumental and delivering a new sonic quality. Again, though, we’re left wondering just how much “fun” Fun. is having. ‘I feel so all alone/ I feel so all alone.’
One step beyond “All Alone,” though, is “All Alright.” ‘I got nothing left/ inside of my chest/ but it’s all alright/ ya, it’s all alright/ I guess it’s all alright.’ It’s a bit slower than its predecessor, but we’ve returned to the theme of perseverance. We’re still on that journey of doubt and ambiguity, but each corner turned brings a new perspective. Particularly when we reach the ninth track, “One Foot,” a previously released single that is an enormous performance. Heavy, powerful, authoritative. One of the most impressive tracks on the album. Perhaps Fun’s message is blatantly clear: on any given night, you never know what you’re going to get.
As we near the end of the marathon, we find onlookers cheering us on in “Stars.” Though it may feel nice at first, this song is again a low point in the album. The vocal line sounds a bit too forced and a little off-putting. The lyrics still resonate, perhaps clarifying the most consistent strength throughout the album. This song just takes one too many odd turns — it carries us from a pop song to a marching-band soundtrack to a waltz to an African-soaked song to a neo-hip-hop radio hit, to a teeny-bop sing-along, to a Bon Iver mimicry and ending in a Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy impersonation. And though “Out on the Town” takes a turn toward the better with its exultant drums and intriguing storyline, it doesn’t compare to some of the other tracks on the album.
…they convey the message that every day is a new day; some days you’ll win, other days, you’ll lose
The theme of the album, sonically, seems to be the build and the collapse. Concurrently, the lyrics and juxtaposition of songs pose feelings of survival and defeat in the face of challenges. Collectively, Fun. has put together an album that reflects on everyday emotions that we can all relate to. They convey the message that every day is a new day; some days you’ll win, other days, you’ll lose. At times, they nail it and build an original, gratifying and motivating collection of sounds and lyrics that get us through these times. Other times, though–and I’ll mention that these are infrequent–in an effort to create an avant-garde anthology, they took the Kanye West vision one step too far and end up with something that misses the mark; something we cannot relate to, or perhaps do not choose to. If we look beyond the minor missteps, though, which I believe I can do, we’re introduced to a new way of creating art, of building and deconstructing layers of noise, of story, of perspective and of feelings that may lead us further along on our journey, one that goes past this impressive eleven-track collection and carries on into our own everyday lives.
Album Rating: 8.2/10
This song is really getting big. And by “getting big,” at this point in time I don’t mean getting annoyingly overplayed on the radio; I mean it’s getting the play time that it deserves amongst the people who would appreciate it the most (aka people who read blogs). I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I love Fun. And it’s old news that I love Janelle Monae. Check out the new music video for “We Are Young.” It’s pretty trippy, but hey…could be fun, right?
Tonight, we are young, so I set the world on fire, we can burn brighter than the sun
There’s also this acoustic video for the “We Are Young,” which features quite a bit more airtime for the one and only Janelle Monae.
And in case you still haven’t had enough, there’s this teaser for a song off their upcoming album, “Some Nights.” If this doesn’t let you know that this album is going to be mind-blowing, I’m not sure what will.
Hit the jump for Fun. tour dates! Best believe I’ll be at the one at The Independent!
Continue reading “Fun. – We Are Young (ft. Janelle Monae) [MUSIC VIDEO]” »
Young band fun. is back with a b-side to their 7″ split with “We Are Young,” a terrific song that sprouted in 2011. This song is incredible. It sounds upbeat, but the lyrics are heartwrenching if you give them a close listen. The bridge of the song, when it slows down and has an acoustic feel makes me gush. I am in love with fun. And wouldn’t you know, for a song I love so much, it’s produced by Emile (of Kid Cudi, Kanye West, The Roots, Eminem and Lana Del Rey fame) and Jeff Bhasker (Jay-Z, Kanye, Drake, Alicia Keys, Beyonce…).
Hit the jump for the MP3 stream and the lyrics
fun. is an indie rock super group (of sorts), featuring members of The Format, Steel Train, and Anathallo. “We Are Young” is our first sample of their untitled sophomore effort. The song is irresistibly catchy and will surely soundtrack my senior year. Shout out to All Things Go for the heads up.
“Not that young!” -Purpose of this picture
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