all words: Erin Holmes
all photos: Emily Cohen
Definition of “FUN,” according to Merriam-Webster: “noun. what provides amusement or enjoyment; playful often boisterous action or speech [or in Thursday night’s case, music!].” It is also the appropriate title of the band who opened for Jack’s Mannequin at the 9:30 Club back in March and who returned to perform this past Thursday, this time as headliners with equally-fun openers The Postelles and Steel Train. I apologize in advance for probably overusing the word “fun” in this article; the thesaurus isn’t giving me anything else I think is worth using (if you’re curious: synonyms include “amusing,” “enjoyable,” “exuberant,” “joyful,” “cool”)…
If you think the music of Fun sounds familiar, that’s probably because you are one of the many alt-pop-rock fans who have gone through at least one phase of listening to The Format, the brainchild of life-long Arizona friends Nate Ruess and Sam Means. And while this team has been on “hiatus” since 2008, Nate Ruess has moved his creativity elsewhere, more specifically to New York and this fairly-new project called Fun. Ruess teamed up with Andrew Dost (Anathallo) and Jack Antonoff (Steel Train) in 2008, and the group has been performing together ever since, including recording an album, Aim and Ignite, last year. Fun merges influences from each of these feeder bands, but ultimately sounds most like The Format with Ruess’s signature vocal stylings and theatrical arrangements. This is not a bad thing!
As for Thursday’s performance, it was musically impressive and a treat for fans who enjoy the sing-and-dance-along style of their tunes. Their playful attitudes also brought up discussions from Harry Potter to The Beatles, the latter leading to the singling out of one man in the crowd who could not sing “Hey Jude” on command, even after the entire crowd silenced, parted, and stared at him… poor guy.
Ruess’s voice and onstage demeanor made the girls and probably some boys melt, especially when paired with the cathartic themes of the full-sounded opener “Be Calm,” catchy “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be),” and slow and sweet “The Gambler” (the first song of the encore). Other beauties were piano-based “I Wanna Be The One,” the very “fun” “All the Pretty Girls” (*slightly disappointed they didn’t change the lyrics “all the pretty girls on a Saturday night” to “all the pretty girls on a THURSDAY night,” that would’ve been cool, right?), and the dancey closer “Take Your Time (Coming Home).”
Format fans were excited to hear a Format cover,“Dog Problems,” and would’ve liked to hear one or two more! I actually would’ve liked to hear one or two more songs in general— it felt like the show was too short! But although Fun was over before I knew it, Fun was still fun. Hopefully there’s more fun in Fun’s future, because that means another show at the 9:30 Club, a venue Ruess hailed as one of his favorites! Fun fun fun.