The second night of fun.’s tour with Steel Train and Jarrod Gorbel was a free, private show in Brooklyn’s Bell House. With a capacity just under 400, the venue provided yet another intimate chance to catch fun. in New York City. The band’s next tour will be in support of their sophomore full-length (due sometime in 2011); this tour provides one last chance to catch all of the Aim and Ignite favorites before they are replaced with the band’s newer tracks.
Jarrod Gorbel, former singer/songwriter of The Honorary Title, started the evening off. Joined by a female violinist who also contributed backing harmonies, Gorbel sounded excellent. Supporting his latest release, Devil’s Made A New Friend, Gorbel stuck primarily to that Burning House Records release. Gorbel concluded his set at 9:30 with “I’ll Do Better”.
Steel Train began just before 10PM, walking out to Dropkick Murphys’s now-famous “Shipping Up to Boston” blasting through the venue’s PA. Trampoline‘s “I Feel Weird” went first, the quintet exploding out of the gates with unrestrained energy.”Turnpike Ghost”, from the band’s self-released, self-titled 2010 effort followed, with some of the crowd reacting to the album’s first single. More from Steel Train followed (“Bullet” and “You Are Dangerous”), the band using the non-headliner opportunity to play much of their new album.
Frontman Jack Antonoff spent most of the set running around the stage and engaging the barrier-free crowd in singing along. For 2007’s “Firecracker”, Antonoff’s father joined the band on guitar and backing vocals, the rest of Steel Train embracing the aged (but still rocking) father in the process. Indeed, the band seems to thrive on their friendships: all five members of the band joined together, arms in each others’ arms, to sing “Road Song” with just Antonoff on clean guitar. An exciting (though somewhat sloppy) cover of “American Girl” was enjoyable, and the band closed their forty minute set with a tight performance of “SOG Burning Hell”.
I Feel Weird
You Are Dangerous
Alone on the Sea
American Girl (Tom Petty cover)
SOG Burning Hell
Following a brief set change, fun. began with “Walking the Dog”, frontman Nate Ruess singing to a rabid audience echoing his every word. Andrew Dost lead “I Wanna Be the One” with its recognizable piano parts, but it was Ruess who brought the song to life with his passionate vocals. Steel Train’s Jack Antonoff, who is also one of three official fun. members, took “Light a Roman Candle” to new heights with extra-heavy guitars midway through the song, providing dynamics to a normally-straightforward pop song.
“All the Pretty Girls” was without its standard multiple-harmony live intro, but the song remained backed by the lovely Emily Moore’s acoustic guitar, just one of a number of her contributions to the set throughout the evening. Without question, fun.’s live show succeeds largely due to the members’ various musical talents; pianist Dost, for example, contributed brass instrumentation to “Barlights”. For a tremendous cover of The Format’s “Dog Problems”, Dost added trumpet parts while Antonoff switched to piano — the band’s members never limiting their roles to just one instrument.
fun. used the second night of their two-month tour to debut a brand new, electric sign sitting behind the drummer. Flashing the band’s name in various colors throughout the set, the “fun sign” also sparked a lengthy banter about Lit, including the band indulging in a brief cover of “My Own Worst Enemy”. The band also promoted the re-release of Aim and Ignite by playing “Stitch Me Up”, a bonus track included on the album’s new Fueled by Ramen pressing.
A touching rendition of “The Gambler” was dedicated to Ruess’s sister and performed by just fun.’s core members (Ruess, Dost, and Antonoff). To break the set’s somber mood, the rest of the band returned for “What the Fuck”, a brand new song that sounded absolutely terrific. The song’s disjointed song structure and jarring, brash instrumentals offered a new side to fun.’s indie-pop antics.
The song seemed to spark some more banter between Ruess and Antonoff, the two recently living together at Antonoff’s parents’ house in New York. As Antonoff explained, Ruess would often steal top-shelf liquor from his room for the purpose of binge-drinking. Besides the obvious tensions arising from stealing a friend’s alcohol, Antonoff was equally discontent with wasting expensive liquor for the sole purpose of getting drunk. Ruess summed up the situation as follows: “Jack likes to buy expensive scotch, and I like to say fuck it to expensive scotch.”
Clearly best friends, Antonoff and Ruess argued about the latter’s habits of getting drunk and watching birds from the porch using a pair of far-too-expensive binoculars; this continued for some time until the band finally kicked into a solid take of “At Least I’m Not as Sad”. The lengthy “Take Your Time” appeared to conclude fun.’s set, but the band returned to cover The Rolling Stones’s “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” with additional keys provided by Steel Train’s Daniel Silbert.
Walking the Dog
I Wanna Be the One
Light a Romance Candle
All the Pretty Girls
Stitch Me Up
Dog Problems (The Format cover)
What the Fuck
At Least I’m Not as Sad (As I Used to Be)
Take Your Time (Coming Home)
You Can’t Always Get What You Want (The Rolling Stones cover)
The lineup of Jarrod Gorbel, Steel Train, and fun. is one of the fall’s best touring packages. fun.’s hour-long setlist omitted just two cuts (“Benson Hedges” and “Be Calm”) from Aim and Ignite, but those songs will likely appear in band’s set on the tour’s regularly scheduled dates; the three acts return to New York City in November to perform at the much larger Webster Hall. Don’t miss the absolutely phenomenal fun.