A week after performing for President Barack Obama at the inaugural ball, power-pop band fun. returned to D.C. and played to a packed crowd at the D.A.R. Constitution Hall on Jan. 31.
Andrew McMahon (Jack’s Mannequin, Something Corporate) opened the show, bringing the crowd to their feet with energetic renditions of his past songs such as Jack’s Mannequin’s 2005 track “Dark Blue” and Something Corporate’s 2002 track “I Woke Up In A Car.”
About 20 minutes after McMahon’s set, as the arena lights dimmed and three banners in front of the stage lowered bearing the lit up letters “FUN.”, an overwhelming scream filled the room.
The group started their set with “Out On The Town,” the title song of their current tour, and captivated the crowd immediately. They continued with “Some Nights,” the high-energy title track off their last album and then began alternating in songs from their first album “Aim and Ignite,” such as “All The Pretty Girls.” Despite the return to an album not as well known as “Some Nights,” the audience had no problem picking up the words and singing along.
Lead singer Nate Ruess bounded all around the stage throughout the night, held already long notes longer and kept the crowd engaged and screaming along. Despite all that movement, Ruess managed to keep his voice strong during the show.
After an inspiring play of their latest single, “Carry On” — which was the highlight of the evening and had the audience throwing their arms in the air in triumph — the band paused for a few minutes to talk to the audience. With heavy spotlights on Ruess, lead guitarist Jack Antonoff and pianist Andrew Dost, the group joked around about not having a monologue prepared. Instead, Ruess left the audience laughing with tour stories about getting a sunburn playing a concert in Cancún and his mother breaking her toe on a beach after a concert in Portugal. As the band spoke, it was clear that the group’s recent mainstream fame has not gone to their heads. Ruess frequently commented on how “weird” it was being able to play the band’s music around the world.
The monologue led to the group performing an acoustic version of “The Gambler,” a song Ruess said is about his parents’ relationship. Without the added background light effects or the extra touring members, this number proved that beneath the synth-pop sound, fun. is a group with true, stripped-down talent. For the first time that night, the audience stayed silent, captivated by the song’s simplicity and sweetness.
The group then picked things back up again, playing an old, unreleased song of theirs entitled “What The F**k?” which got a loud singalong. They followed that with their first single off the “Some Nights” album, “We Are Young,” which led the audience to throw its hands into the air excitedly in time with the song as they sang along, almost drowning out Ruess.
A stirring performance of “All Alright” closed the main setlist. Its slow ending allowed the band and touring members to exit the stage one by one. The venue quickly filled with hundreds of voices chanting for more.
fun. returned shortly after for a two-song encore, performing “One Foot” and “Stars,” during which Ruess ran up into the two sections of the arena connected to the stage and briefly stood within the crowds as he sang, reigniting the audience’s loud energy and bringing the band’s name to life.