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With 15 songs and 20 or so F-bombs, Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff, or the band known as fun., lived up to their oddly-punctuated name on Tuesday night at the Greek, kicking things off with a quick barbershop-esque intro that revealed the trio in their best formal wear — classic black tuxedos and bow ties. Not quite the attire you’d expect from a band who espouses youth with the hit song “We Are Young,” or the call to follow that is “Carry On,” but this show was a celebration of sorts: at least for lead singer Ruess, who declared it his first “hometown performance” in the city of angels.
The band’s set followed a rousing, hourlong warm-up from indie rock duo Tegan and Sara, which brought the respectable crowd of early-comers — teens, families, twentysomethings and even the elderly — to its feet. It would be awhile before audience members would sit again, what with Ruess bouncing around the stage with ease, never losing his breath and often lingering on single notes, proving just how powerful his pipes really are.
Indeed, you could see hints of a young Steven Tyler in the 31-year-old singer. Although fun.’s music is gentler than Aerosmith’s, what comes out of Ruess’ mouth was no less awe-inspiring. His confidence, it appears, has increased tenfold since his days in the folksy, indie pop band The Format. And no doubt the band’s two Grammy awards — for best new artist and song of the year for “We Are Young” — has helped.
But even beyond Ruess’ vocal skills, this trio knows how to put on a show. In a series of dramatic lights-outs, which found the stage frequently pin-balling from blindingly bright to pitch black, neon colors and flashing geometric shapes accentuated songs like opener “One Foot,” which in a classic concert bait-and-switch, found the guys back in their street clothes for the rest of the set.
And it’s a good thing they got comfortable for the 90-minute performance because, while the Ruess pushed himself to deliver his best, the frontman egged the audience on, too — demanding that they stay on their feet, sing along and engage.
Ruess maintained his potty-mouthed charm throughout. He alone let 11 F-bombs fly, including one in the lyrics of “Some Nights,” undoubtedly splitting the diverse audience between increased and decreased likability. But if any ticket-buying parents were unhappy about the cursing, you wouldn’t know it. Hearty cheers followed nearly every one of Ruess’ declarations. (For what it’s worth: Seven F-bombs came courtesy of Antonoff, while Dost delivered only two.)
Filling out the band on Tuesday was multi-instrumentalist Emily Moore, whose sweet vocals bounced perfectly off Ruess’, Nate Harold on bass and Will Noon on drums. But one particularly memorable exchange came with just the original trio onstage, in which Ruess and Antonoff attempted to goad Dost into stomping on his keyboard. “Oh, you didn’t get enough sleep last night? Why don’t you show your piano how you feel … with your foot.” Heckling their bandmate until he eventually complied, the gag — which felt authentic, but likely drawn from a real-life meltdown — drew big laughs from everyone onstage and off.
The band weaved seamlessly between lesser-known songs “Walking the Dog,” “Barlights” and “The Gambler” and fan favorites including “All the Pretty Girls,” “Carry On,” “We Are Young” and a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
Taking their first bow after “Take Your Time,” fun. returned to the stage after a brief breather for an encore that perhaps should have been inverted. “Some Nights” elevated the venue’s energy to a fever pitch, but “Stars” brought it right back down, leaving a much more mellow audience to brave the traffic home. It was probably for the best.
From the Greek’s post-show hospitality suite, Ruess and co. could be seen heading home, but that didn’t stop the festivities from continuing inside. Among those chatting with fellow concertgoers were Lance Bass and Darren Criss, who also exchanged a few niceties among themselves.
You can’t blame a band for riding a beloved album for the better part of two years (Some Nights was released in February of 2012), but still, there are those who wonder what fun.’s next act will be. Alas, Tuesday’s show offered no clues of what to expect from their new music.
Some Nights Intro
Walking the Dog
Why Am I the One
At Least I’m Not as Sad (as I Used to Be)
All the Pretty Girls
It Gets Better
You Cant Always Get What You Want
We Are Young
Take Your Time
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