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When indie rock band The Format broke up in 2008, fans had no idea what the future would hold for singer Nate Ruess. Teaming up with Anathallo’s Andrew Dost and Steel Train’s Jack Antonoff, he immediately formed the band fun. and went on tour with Jack’s Mannequin that same year. Melodies and enthusiasm fueled their first album Aim and Ignite in 2009 but it was Some Nights, released in 2012, that tossed the band face-first into the spotlight. Commercialism and Billboard rankings often turn bands sour, but the good news is fun. haven’t lost their quirky charm.
Miniature Tigers opened for fun. at the House of Blues with a mix of indie rock, synth, and pop songs. The songs sounded different enough to break them apart from the regular patterns and beats opening bands rely on. The crowd happily interacted with their banter as they asked if everyone was party animals or how they feel about love. The set was evenly split with older, more traditional pop rock songs like “Cannibal Queen” and newer, more electronic tracks like “Gold Skull”. When they announced their last song, the crowd booed. “Don’t boo,” frontman Charlie Brand laughed. “That makes us feel worse.” It was clear both their synth key atmosphere and acoustic guitar vibrations filled the venue with good spirits to start the show.
As soon as the lights blacked out, the audience started screaming. Giant posters hung from the ceiling to spell out “FUN.” at the stage’s rear that faded into focus as the band members walked onstage. “One Foot” began as Ruess ran about the stage, only singing half the words because the crowd had it down. The huge crowd reaction had him somewhat shell-shocked as he would burst into smiles, unable to sing, as they sang “oh, oh, OH” and threw their fists in the air. “Walking the Dog” got the crowd bobbing up and down and the gentle lullaby piano into an anthem-like bass drum of “Why Am I The One” had the entire venue repeatedly asking “Why am I the one?” this universal question played out to whoever has the answer.
Ruess’ wide eyes didn’t lie as the crowd cheered so much he couldn’t talk. “You guys are freaking us out,” he laughed and the band members looked at one another. Some time passed before the cheers died down enough for them to start the unmistakable intro of “All the Pretty Girls.” Ruess tossed his hand up into the air as he danced across the stage and hiccupped out “I do” over and over. Solid backup vocals added to the strength of the song. It seemed so fitting as every girl screamed out the chorus on Boston’s own Saturday night.
“All Alone” had less of a hip-hop sound live than it does on the album, but that didn’t stop fans from throwing their hands down like at a rap concert. The bassist stepped forward for his solo, similar to Antonoff’s earlier in the night. Every member on stage got equal fame, not just Ruess from his Format status. Fans clapped out the piano part as Dost had his short solo on “Carry On”
Green backlights lit up the stage for “Barlights,” matching Ruess’ #9 Celtics jersey flawlessly (which he later told the audience he “wears everywhere”). All six performers hopped around the stage, using the space to their advantage, as the crowd started clapping the beat out without anyone onstage asking them to. Antonoff began banging an extra set of drumsticks on the kit as the drummer played his own part. “I’m going to need total silence – don’t be that guy,” Ruess laughed. Unfortunately, several people wanted to be that very person and shouted out “I love you” and other ignored comments until someone shouted back to be quiet. The crowd was then asked if they could whisper “You know I feel alive”. The result was the House of Blues in its entirety whispering the phrase together, over and over, before Ruess told them to forget their indoor voices. Everyone started gaining momentum as they shouted and fun. worked the track like it was a closing song
“We were hoping it would be as good as this judging as past shows here,” Ruess said, “but this is awesome.” Since Antonoff’s parents met at Boston University and were in attendance, “The Gambler” was dedicated to them. A respectful crowd sang along to the sweet and tame song with arms around their friends. “At Least I’m Not as Sad (As I Used To Be)” was next with a flugelhorn part played out by Dost. Fans’ overwhelming cheering only stopped to sing along to the words.
A surprising moment of the night was the reception of “We Are Young”. The first rock/alternative song to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart since Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” in 2008, “We Are Young” is what made fun. popular. Its soldier-like drumming and belting chorus were strong live, especially with the crowd singing the backing beat. The fact that “We Are Young” wasn’t the standout moment or the crowd’s favorite proves that it was the song to get them mainstream attraction, but not what fun. lean on in order to be successful or memorable. They closed with a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” that was a little bit more poppy but held true to the cover with perfect drumming.
With an encore of “Some Nights” and “Take Your Time,” everyone in the crowd was holding on to the person they came with and throwing their hands in the air, a toast to the band they’ve grown to love more and more. House of Blues’ sold out crowd went crazy dancing and singing. As the last note rang out, fun. thanked the crowd for such a wonderful night, but I’m sure anyone there would tell you it was the other way around. Boston was thankful for a magical night of music.