Concert review – fun. in the mud!

miloHey Pal:

I hate you.

I hate you because jealousy breeds hatred, and I am jealous of your last post. It is brilliant, funny, educational and pertinent. It tackles an important issue with wit, intelligence (not the artificial kind) and panache. It is very, very good. It’s either the best you’re ever going to do because it’s the best you have in you, or you’re just going to keep getting better, in which case this blog will soon be called Pal With Thoughts.

Now. On to more mundane issues, and to bring things down to my level.

I am going to make a declaration.

I am going to make a declaration about a concert I was at on Saturday night.

Before I make the declaration, I need you to know a few things:

  1. I was not drunk (at least not very)
  2. I don’t feel overly passionate about the band in question
  3. I was not in the first few rows and my view was just OK
  4. The venue was not good — in fact, it sucked

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In other words, there were no mitigating factors that artificially elevated my enjoyment of this concert-going experience.

Now I’m going to say it:

On Saturday, July 6 at Downsview Park in Toronto I saw indie pop band fun. (some nights) perform live, and it was one of the best concerts I have ever seen.

I’m as surprised as you perhaps are.

I have seen hundreds of shows. I have seen pigs fly at Pink Floyd. I and 50,000 other people have drowned out Paul McCartney during the singing of “Hey Jude”. I have been in the same room as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, U2 and the Rolling Stones (not all at once, but still). I have seen KISS at Tiger Stadium, which means I have seen KISS play “Detroit Rock City” in Detroit.

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Legendary acts. Big, big shows.

But fun. gave them all a run for their money. I am not kidding. It was awesome. The band sounded great. Lead singer Nate Ruess is an excellent frontman. Every song was clear and pristine, but with a nitro boost of crowd-fed energy. There was not a dull moment.

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It was gloriously theatrical. They didn’t just play, they performed. They danced. They leapt. They employed artful pauses. They told stories. They played one another’s instruments. They bonded with each other and the crowd. They sent great, rolling waves of love and melody to everyone in earshot. There was confetti, giant balloons and fireworks. Cheesy? Maybe a little.

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But the adoring crowd ate it up.

We sang and shouted and fist-pumped without restraint.  It was one epic sing-along after another. “Carry On”. “Some Nights”. “We are Young”. Especially “We are Young”, when half the crowd was directed to sing “Na na na na na na na na…” while the other half crooned “carry me home tonight”. fun. took us on a ride and were delighted to go.

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Just when I thought I was too old to go to the kind of concert where you stand in a mud field for seven hours, pee in port-o-potties and eat raunchy overpriced food, fun. made it, well, fun.

You know what was the key? fun. is a band on the rise, at the peak of their powers. They are in the process of becoming huge and they are surprised and delighted that it’s happening, and immensely grateful to the fans for making it so. The whole world is opening up for them and they are hyper-charged with energy and momentum, and their fans feel it and shoot it right back. Everyone in that muddy, crappy shit-hole called Downsview Park believed without a shadow of a doubt that there was no better place to be that night.

You know the feeling, Pal. You’ve been to that kind of show. Avett Brothers at the Phoenix. Fleet Foxes at Massey Hall. The Head and the Heart at the Opera House. Small shows. Huge emotions. Energy to burn.

There’s a palpable difference between these concerts and the big concerts I mentioned above. When the band on stage is already legendary, it just ain’t the same. They’re old and have done it all. The crowd is old and has seen it all. The band has a job to do – they are working – and the crowd is sitting back waiting to see if they’re going to get their money’s worth. There are very few surprises for anyone involved.

bored

fun. was one of the nicest surprises I have had in a good while. The Toronto show was the first stop on a 40-something city tour of North America this summer. I suspect the show is just going to get better and better as Nate and the boys fine-tune their artistry for the larger venues they now find themselves playing for the first time. It may be the tour of the summer. Dear readers – I suggest you go. See them while “We are Young” is a hit, not a classic. A reality, not a memory.

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