fun. - The Wiltern - 8/17/12
You have to hand it to fun. With a debut that put them on people's radar, their sophomore album took them into a different stratosphere, which isn't easy. Not only that, the New Yorkers also managed to interject themselves into the conversation of the top breakout bands of 2012. Yes, at this point "We Are Young" is painfully annoying, but that's not their fault. Blame it on every radio programmer in the country for falling into an indie pop trap.
At the first of three sold-out shows at The Wiltern, which included several sets of parents, the band made sure their name wasn't just a clever pun. Playing in Los Angeles, as many bands will attest, is often daunting. Fans can be painfully quiet, bordering on aloofness. Not last night.
When the band took the stage, the crowd was already in peak form. Over the course of their 75-minute set, fun. made sure fans were having as good of a time as they did. Singer Nate Ruess, who was rockin' a shirt and tie, was bouncing around on stage like he had a pogo stick while the rest of the band fed of his energy.
It was surprising to see so many fans singing along to every word of every song, especially in the digital age. Bands aren't supposed to build a loyal fanbase on the strength of a couple of singles, yet here we are and fun defied the rules.
"How the fuck are you doing!" Ruess asked the crowd. "We are fun and I want you to sing-along as loud as possible!"
Heeding the singer's instructions, they did exactly that. In fact, the Wiltern crowd gets points for actually being fans of the group beyond their big songs. Tunes like the poppy "Carry On," "It Gets Better" and the '80s influenced (but not in a good way) "All The Pretty Girls" got thunderous ovations, even making the speakers below the balcony shake as if they were going to pop off.
Outside of their hits, the band shined during cover songs. Their version of The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" was one of the highlights of the night, serving as a reminder that the band can do well if they can deviate from playing pop songs. Contrarily their cover of The Four Seasons' "December, 1963" served as a little more than a segue into the second half of the set and didn't really do anything otherwise. But it did allow for the band to partake in some witty banter amongst each before addressing the crowd.
"This is one of the coolest nights I've ever fucking had!" Ruess exclaimed to the roar of the crowd. "We have three nights here, but the first cut is the deepest."
Indeed it does. They pulled out all of the theatrics. Whether it was shooting confetti or dropping balloons during set closer "Some Nights," fun. showed that their comfortable in their collective skins and are enjoying life in the limelight. Granted no one knows if their brand of indie, with a splash of retro, pop will have staying power, but for at least for one weekend, the band can look back fondly and tell anyone who didn't believe in them that they sold-out three nights in Los Angeles, which is an accomplishment in itself.
Critical Bias: A lot of the songs sound the same, especially live. But that doesn't mean that everyone wasn't having a good time.
The Crowd: An enthusiastic group of diehards.
Random Notebook Dump: Ruess has the band's logo tattooed on his inner left forearm. That's a big no-no, but we'll chalk that up to his inexperience with having success with this band.