Concert review: Fun

VIENNA, Va., May 10, 2012 — Pop music demographics are a funny thing.  It’s a medium that tends to skew younger than almost any other.  The target audience for a successful pop band, or at least the audience that indicates the band in question is popular, are the 16 to 22 crowd.  They come out in droves when a pop band starts to peak, and they made up the majority of the audience at Fun’s two sold out shows at the 9:30 Club.

Being labeled strictly a pop band has a certain stigma to it that the band is limited in some way or that they might be a flash in the pan.  A lot of this has to do with the nature of their fans, which are usually viewed to have fickle tastes and can change quickly.  Although when this age group identifies with a band, it’s usually with a passion that can’t really be matched anywhere else and that’s exactly what’s happened with Fun.

This all sounds like Fun haven’t earned this kind of attention or they don’t quite live up to the hype set on them. None of that is true of course.  All three primary members are veterans of the indie rock circuit, playing in bands that have all achieved a moderate amount of success in bands like the Format, Steel Train, and Anathallo.  Granted none of them have garnered this kind of success, but that experience still goes a long way towards crafting an engaging sound and stage presence.

For all intents and purposes, Fun is a continuation of lead singer Nate Ruess’ former band the Format.  They were a straight up indie pop band and Fun progresses a lot of the ideas that came out with the Format and then pushing it that much further.  When people talk about what they what out of pop music, especially of the guitar driven variety, Fun is the kind of band they have in mind. 

The interesting thing about Fun is their inclination to throw anything against the wall and see what sticks.  Considering they’re quite adept musicians, what ends up sticking is a lot.  Nothing is off limits to the band and they have a strong of understanding of dynamics that a lot of works, and the stuff that might not come off as strong, is easily overlooked.

This is part of the reason Fun connects so well with a younger crowd.  In a youth culture that seems to appreciate mash-up aesthetics more and more, a band that is willing try different things and attempt meld various genres into one package, seems just perfect right now.

So it’s not surprising the crowd at the 9:30 Club ate up Fun’s grandiose idea of what pop music should be.  Not only does Fun shift a number of different styles within their sound, but they do it with a sense of unapologetic style and flair.  Mixing Nate Ruess’s theatrical vocal style with the band’s huge pop sound and the band never lets up for the entire set.

It’s almost impossible to comprehend where energy Fun plays with comes from.  The audience was so charged to see the band, they could’ve very well been feeding off them, but the band is inherently energetic, so it could’ve easily just as been the other way around.  What ends up happening is Fun and the audience create this endless loop of energy, which makes the whole set almost exhausting after about 45 minutes.

It’s hard to say how long Fun will be able to keep up the momentum of their recent success, but they aren’t a band inclined to be gone quickly.  It would be one thing if they overused a gimmicky approach, but they’ve shown an urge to evolve and with the collection of huge ideas, it’s likely they’ll burn bright for as long as they do stick around.  This is the reason alone to think everyone enjoying Fun at the 9:30 Club will be around to see how things play out.

Stephen Bradley is an avid music listener. Read more of his work in Riffs at the Washington Times Communities.


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Stephen Bradley

Stephen Bradley is an avid music listener and an occasional writer.  He grew up in the Washington DC area and has been embedded in the local music scene for years.  Currently he lives in Vienna, VA.   He enjoys bands that have been broken up for at least a decade.

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