Fun. is having a moment right now. The New York power-pop trio just got bumped off the top spot of the Hot 100 after six weeks, but breakout album Some Nights is still the United States’ most-streamed album on Spotify, and the group is sandwiched between a Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza booking. All of this is on the strength of “We Are Young,” a fistpumping indie pop track produced by the dude who produced half of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and is crazy enough to overcome its ridiculous pedigree.
So it’s a good moment to be playing New York. The atmosphere was something of a homecoming show for Fun—the unfailingly chipper Nate Ruess is a resident of New York, and has been for five years. Unbelievably, city life has not dented Ruess’ earnestness or good faith, and that’s inspiring in a way. That earnestness, while occasionally backfiring in lines like “here they come again to jack my style,” enables him to connect on a large scale. Fun. is singer-songwriting writ arena-huge (with production to match—Some Nights stands as the most overproduced rock record of the year).
On record, Fun. is a studio band, with complex arrangements and instrumentation that underline Ruess’ melancholy exuberance and crystalline voice. Live, Fun. did its best to reproduce that, performing little flourishes like the brass on “One Foot” and stuttering vocals on “Carry On.” The show proved that Fun. is undoubtedly a band, not just Ruess and a large studio budget. The six musicians onstage were talented and dynamic together, and Ruess was bouncing around throughout.
It was a testament to Fun.’s moment that Terminal 5 felt intimate rather than cavernous as it usually does. Thousands of people sang along to every word that Ruess’ impossibly polished voice belted and cooed. (If anyone can say anything ill about Fun., they can’t deny the fantastic gorgeousness of Ruess’ pipes. Dude can sing.) The band ended its main set with “We Are Young,” and it transformed into a “Wake Up”-style closer.
Fun encored with the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” which, considering the subject matter, Ruess probably wishes he’d written. His songs are always about transcending disappointment and youthful hardship, and it looks like Saturday night Fun. had finally done it.
It’s a good moment to be Fun. Nate Ruess might never get the reception like this again or “We Are Young” could be the beginning of a long run of success. There’s no telling. But some nights, it just doesn’t matter.