Concerts Concerts Fun. Truth In Advertising.

Fun. Truth In Advertising.

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fun. at The Mod Club
Fun
Steel Train
The Mod Club in Toronto, ON
November 30, 2010

Review by: Pete Nema
Photos by: Julie Lavelle

Standing at the edge of the stage, Nate Ruess (vocals) declared "We are Fun." It was intended to come across as a declaration of the band's name, but the expression on his face made it clear he meant it both ways. The man speaks the truth.

Fun

Watching the band's core members Nate Ruess, Jack Antonoff (guitar) and Andrew Dost (piano, brass), along with three touring musicians, bring their debut album Aim and Ignite to life on the stage was more than fun, it was an outstanding concert experience. From the first word of the first song of the set, "Be Calm", the all-ages crowd was singing along. It only took minutes for Ruess to respond to the enthusiasm of the fans, returning passion and energy during the follow-up "Walking The Dog" at levels that are usually reserved for the final song of the night. From where I was standing along the raised section of The Mod Club, I could almost see pleasure being emitted from all the heads of the people in the front third of the room.

During "All The Pretty Girls", a track that has a 70's ELO influence to it, ended with an eruption of bubbles from the ceiling of The Mod Club, an effect they use on occasion at that venue. It's amusing, even if only for a short while, but Ruess was so captivated by the bubbles that after gushing about them verbally for a bit, he and the band broke into an improvised song about bubbles in Toronto for which the crowd was treated to another flurry of bubbles. In addition to the bubbles, the lighting rig at The Mod Club is incredible and nothing was held back for this show, with endless colours and patterns being used throughout the show to match the bright power-pop from Fun.

They worked through most, if not all, of the tracks from their debut album, including the anthemic "Benson Hedges," "Barlights" and "At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)" which had the crowd singing full-force. The encore started out with "The Gambler," a lengthy lyrically love story that is a bit too much for me, but even so, it acted as a reasonable segue for the final over-the-top number "Take Your Time (Coming Home)." That song had Ruess drop into the crowd to sing among (and along with) his fans, once again being showered by bubbles. He returned to stage for a big finish that had all band member's hands in the air and dropping to the floor for the final note.

Fun is easy music to like, provided you're not offended by rousing music and lyrics and are willing accept their endlessly elated nature, with no time spent brooding. Their music contains influences from Queen, ELO (as previously mentioned), and even shades of late Beatles, which accounts for the style of backup vocals, big compositions, and the musical changes. Take all of that bundled together with a show that has the ability to appeal to a wide range of ages, and you have a concert that stands out even among all the shows I've seen this year.

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Steel Train

Prior to Fun, Jack Antonoff's other band, Steel Train, hit the stage starting out with lots of three-part harmonies and hand-clapping. Four of the band members were lined up across the front of the stage. Antonoff is sort of like a childish, expressive Bruce Springsteen on stage, although I think much of his influence from The Boss is more visual than musical. The music was previously unknown to me, and although much of it is lost on me now, the song "Firecracker" seemed to stand out.

But the highlight of their set was when Antonoff announced they were going to sing a song they had written for two year-olds, for the television show Yo Gabba Gabba. He asked the crowd to "let go" and as Antonoff sang through the command-based lyrics of "It's Fun To Dance," the audience members did exactly that. We were ordered to dance, clap, and eventually to "go apeshit", lyrics that I'm guessing weren't part of the original song. With the crowd responding well to Antonoff's instructions, it was pretty hilarious to watch.

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