Concluding a tour that began in September, fun. returned to New York City for what looks to be their last time supporting 2009’s Aim and Ignite. With a new record just around the corner in 2011, the late November Webster Hall date gave fun. fans one last chance to hear the band’s debut in its entirety. Of course, support from up-and-comers The Postelles and stalwarts Steel Train only sweetened the Thanksgiving weekend event.
Supporting their self-titled debut, The Postelles opened the evening at 7PM in front of a hometown crowd. With bright, crunchy guitars and fine-tuned percussion, the quartet was immediately accessible. Songs like “Boy’s Best Friend” — an unplanned request from a rabid group of fans in the front row — epitomize the band’s lyrical content (“On the first night that I met her, I could tell she was my type / Then, she told me that she’d kissed the lips of girls I’d liked / Well I think I know now why she would go”), drawing immediate and favorable comparisons to bands like Plain White T’s. A surprising number of fans sang along to frontman Daniel Balk’s every word, with recent single “White Night” drawing the biggest response from the crowd. The hook-laden “Can’t Stand Still” wrapped up the band’s thirty-minute set.
Hey Little Sister
Boy’s Best Friend
Can’t Stand Still
Steel Train walked on stage to Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind”, beginning their set with the first two tracks on their latest full-length, “Bullet” and “Turnpike Ghost”, back-to-back. Trampoline lead-off “I Feel Weird” followed, the five-piece settling into a solid rhythm. Full of enthusiasm and emotion, frontman Jack Antonoff engaged the crowd with his passionate vocals and exaggerated guitar motions. The New Jersey natives clicked for their entire forty-five minutes on stage.
“Kill Monsters in the Rain” featured The Postelles’s Daniel Balk, and “Firecracker” added Antonoff’s father on guitar, but it was all five members of Steel Train huddled around one microphone for “Road Song” that found the band at their best. “It’s Fun to Dance”, was, well, fun to dance to, and the entire Webster Hall crowd jumped along to the Yo Gabba Gabba tune. Following a sloppy Tom Petty cover, Steel Train ended their ten-song set with a fantastic performance of “SOG Burning in Hell”.
I Feel Weird
Kill Monsters in the Rain
You Are Dangerous
It’s Fun to Dance
American Girl (Tom Petty cover)
SOG Burning in Hell
fun. began with Aim and Ignite opener “Be Calm”, one of the band’s finer songs that is often neglected in live performances. “Walking the Dog” followed, frontman Nate Ruess delivering his trademark vocals over a simple melody backed by clever drumming and tremendous singalongs. Soaring harmonies kicked off the underplayed “Benson Hedges”, with the entire fun. camp contributing to the song’s opening lines: “Holy ghosts, when do you come out to play? / ‘Cause if the Lord is gonna find me, He’d better start looking today”.
The lighthearted “Roman Candle” went next, Andrew Dost laying the foundation with a cute piano riff that slowly evolved into a full band take on the minor scale tune. Some banter with the crowd lead to guitarist Jack Antonoff playing bits of Rage Against the Machine, the entire band laughing along to “Sleep Now in the Fire”.
“All the Pretty Girls” was predictably incredible, the six-piece showcasing nearly all of their moving parts in one song including clever percussion, harmonies, and handclaps. “Dog Problems”, from Ruess’s previous band, The Format, was fantastic, but it was “Barlights” that had Ruess delivering his most emotional vocals this evening: “I’m gonna live forever! I’m gonna live forever!”
Silencing any doubt that the band pays constant tribute to Queen, fun. unleashed a solid cover of the 1984 favorite “Radio Gaga”. Trading vocals with multi-instrumentalist Emily Moore, Ruess was all smiles during the bouncy “At Least I’m Not as Sad”. fun.’s encore began with the band and audience alike popping enormous balloons that showered the venue. After a few failed attempts (pesky balloons!) at actually jumping into “The Gambler”, fun. dedicated the song to Antonoff’s parents and performed a beautiful rendition of the song.
“Take Your Time” concluded fun.’s time on stage, literally — Ruess, Dost, and Antonoff leapt into the crowd during the song’s final moments, thanking everyone for selling out the band’s biggest show to date.
Walking the Dog
I Wanna Be the One
All the Pretty Girls
Dog Problems (The Format cover)
Radio Gaga (Queen cover)
At Least I’m Not as Sad (As I Used to Be)
Take Your Time (Coming Home)
Opening acts The Postelles and Steel Train added to the night’s value, each unleashing solid setlists that likely drew in many new fans. With a followup to Aim and Ignite coming next year, the Webster Hall date on fun.’s fall tour offered the perfect sendoff to their incredible debut.