fun. - Comerica Theatre - 9/10/2013
"We Are Young" may not have even been the second-unlikeliest No. 1 hit of 2012--here in 2013, though, at a safe remove from PSY and Gotye, it's a little easier to appreciate just how weird it was. With rock in a supposedly terminal decline, the first chart-topping band since Nickelback was playing not post-grunge--the last refuge of loud guitars--but brittle, anxious indie-guy-dance music.
And, yeah, the lead singer was Nate Ruess, erstwhile lead singer of The Format. It was a lot for brittle-anxious-indie-guys to take in at once.
Since then, though, fun. and its boomy drums have successfully imprinted on the culture. Their show at Comerica Theatre felt like an overdue recognition of just how big Some Nights had gotten--and that was the way the band and the audience seemed to treat it.
Tegan and Sara felt like an unusual choice for opener, but only until I realized I hadn’t heard their last album. 2012’s Heartthrob, a conscious attempt at broadening their audience, hits all the same buttons as fun., extruding twee mid-aughts indie through heavy synthpop.
“Closer” finished their set, sounding urgent and thick enough to have segued directly into “We Are Young” in some alternate-universe Grammys medley. I’m not close enough to the situation to know if their crossover turn has caused as much consternation in Canada as Nate Ruess’s did here, but from that distance, at least, it was easy to enjoy.
Then came fun. Here's the only way I can describe it: fun.'s fans only screamed a little less than the Backstreet Boys' fans did earlier this month. They stood up the whole time, slow ones and fast ones. Entire families, a full venue.
Granted: fun.'s bag of tricks is a little limited–the Platonic form of fun. is a song about staying on a certain side of the bed some nights on your way into or out of a big city, with a wordy verse and a slow, stomping chorus. But these songs, and those tricks, just couldn’t work any better than they do live in a big theater. Their first hit may have seemed a little fluky, but these songs are built like it was a foregone conclusion. They needed to be this big–that’s the point.
Nate Ruess, too–on Comerica’s big stage he was like a human iTunes visualizer, bounced into the air by their synth-assisted beats and running and spinning among his bandmates. Even the ballads, or the ballad parts, are pitched for the world’s largest bonfire. This is enormous confetti-cannon music.