“For the first time in a long time, I feel alive,” are some of the simple and succinct lyrics to Fun.’s song “Barlights.” If you want a verbal snapshot of what Tuesday’s impressive show at the Roseland Theater was like, go no further than that.
As if the long-held sold out ticket status wasn’t indicator enough, Fun.’s recent Billboard Hot 100 success “We Are Young” has garnered the New York outfit a large burst of attention. Fresh from playing Sasquatch Music Festival, and with youngsters Now Now slated to open, Fun.’s tour kickoff is something that many fans anxiously waited for.
With coverage in top entertainment outlets (SPIN, Filter, and NPR to name a few), touring spots beside heavy-hitters like Paramore, Mates Of State and a song featured in Grey’s Anatomy, I am still confused as to how openers Now Now (formerly known as Now Now Every Children) are still such a well-kept secret.
The three piece, comprised of Cacie Dalager, Jess Abbot and Bradley Hale, play solid, smooth, perfectly pieced together soft rock—laced up by sweet co-ed harmonies and consistently on point drumming. Though the trio looked a little bit tentative and nervous on stage, the crowd was completely keyed in to their music, fully attentive and interacting in spots where they could. Now Now’s muted palette of instrumentals creates such a big sound and laid excellent groundwork for the slow-building excitement of the night. Even with the band’s set of slower-tempo, atmospheric songs, it seemed impossible to disregard the presence their music created, exemplified only by the resounding the reaction they were met with from the crowd.
With a young, co-ed lineup, in many cases it seems easy for people to write bands such as Now Now off for having a gimmick or buying into a “quaint” niche, but the musicianship portrayed throughout the set throws all consideration of those facts aside. Instead of seeming worn out or bored, attendees seemed genuinely ecstatic to being introduced to this band, and the longer the set went on, the more the bond between stage and crowd grew.
By the time Now Now’s set had ended (to rousing applause, especially when lead vocalist Cacie mentioned they’d be hanging out back by merch to talk to people) the Roseland was packed to the gills and absolutely buzzing with electricity. From the balcony, the sight was honestly breathtaking—so many people waiting patiently for the main event. And when Fun. finally took the stage, the room erupted in the deafening sound of cheers, applause and the faintly discernable shouts of “I love you” aimed at the stage.
If you’ve been following frontman Nate Ruess’ career for any time, you might be aware of the attention and adoration he’s garnered through his years as a musician. Through his early outlet, now defunct The Format, who grew to have a widespread and loyal following, and up until the beginning of Fun. in 2008, it seems that fans have been waiting for him to finally get his moment to shine. And now, four years later, after vigorous touring and two full-lengths released, it seems that fans are finally getting just what they hoped for. By the look on Ruess’ face as he looked out over the crowd, it’s just what he had hoped for too.
I’ve been to a lot of shows this year already, but none have topped the energy that shook the room as Fun. blew through their set with style. With six touring members, the stage was full of movement and life, lights and banners draping the wall behind them.
The band certainly lived up to their namesake, inciting rousing sing-alongs and handclapping from the crowd all throughout the set. Many times during the evening, Ruess stood at the edge of the stage and looked bewilderingly into the crowd—at one point mentioning that he wasn’t sure if it was just the jetlag, but Portland’s crowd was one of the best they had ever played to. While I’m used to hearing bands boast this to whatever city they’re playing in, looking out across the sea of waving bodies in the room had me believing he might just be being honest this time.
From the floor, all the way up into the balcony, with every song the joy in the room was contagious. Even the parents sitting near me in the balcony stood and sang along passionately mid-set during the band’s cover of The Rolling Stone’s “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” And as for the rest of the set, it was almost hard to hear Andrew Dost’s expertly executed piano, Emily Moore’s accented saxophone and Ruess’ crystal clear vocals over the hum of the crowd singing back every word.
And, the with the room singing in perfect unison “I, I feel alive! I, I feel alive!” it was ridiculously hard to feel like anything else mattered at the moment.
Words by Jenna Fletcher.
Photos by Kimberly Lawson. More on Flickr.