A couple of weeks ago Fun. played a show at the Fox Theater in Boulder. It was one of three stops they made in Colorado, all of which sold out. This was not surprising considering the recent success of the band, but for long time fans it was somewhat disconcerting. The fact that more people are attending their concerts is yet another reminder of the changes they have undergone. It is not that more people like them that make them less appealing, but that their sound has become less distinctive and more crowd-pleasing. The sold out shows are merely a symptom of this. But even the most jaded fan cannot help but loose all inhibitions the second Nate Reuss’s vocal chords tear across the room at their live shows.
Before Fun. came on, the opening band Sleeper Agent did an impressive job getting fans pumped for the headliners. The band captivated the audience. Sleeper Agent is less “poppy” and more grunge rock than Fun. The fact that they still managed to win over Fun.’s audience is surprising. Much of this can be attributed to the enthusiasm that lead singer Alex Kandel brought with her to the stage. Her voice and expressions are unique. She is almost as much fun to watch as she is to listen to. The highlight of their set was their song “That’s My Baby” in which Kandel’s voice balanced perfectly with guitarist Tony Smith’s. At least momentarily, it seemed like they might upstage their headliners.
While Sleeper Agents performance was striking, Fun. still reigned victorious. The new album was filled with overproduced drum loops and unnecessary auto-tune. It made the band seem less genuine and too easily distracted by fancy machinery. In their live performance though, they stripped away most of these decorations. There was no auto-tune, the drum loops were less prominent, and most importantly, Reuss’s vocals were pushed front and center. Their set actually started with a little bit of drama, courtesy of a fight breaking out a few rows back from the stage. The band successfully used this to establish a report with the crowd as they made fun of the rabble-rousers. Reuss was as charming as ever and maintained this dynamic through the rest of their set and encore. Their set was a good mix of songs from “Some Nights” and “Aim and Ignite.” The standouts of the set were “Barlights,” “Some Nights,” and opening song “Why Am I the One?”
The band was engaging and energizing and even the most cynical of audience members were probably tapping their foot to the beat. When they ended their final song of their encore and left the stage, their absence was truly felt. Hopefully, on the next album, Fun. will try to apply some of their live styles to their recordings. Stripping the songs of their studio amenities made them feel more personal and ultimately showcased the three front men and their unique talents.