Friday, September 18, 2009

fun. at Mercury Lounge on 9/17/2009

My little brother introduced me to The Format (awesome website by the way) a few years ago and quickly afterward they became his favorite band. I agreed that the singer has an amazing vocal ability and their quirky songwriting approach made their sound new and yet completely accessible. He was heartbroken when he told me of The Format’s break-up and reinvigorated when he informed me of fun., the new project from The Format’s former front man (say that three times fast…okay try five) Nate Ruess. Aim & Ignite (fun.’s debut album) sounds like the natural evolution of The Format,” he says. “It’s like they never left.”

Have to disagree with you on that one Little Bro. While both bands are anchored by Ruess’s uninhibited vocals, fun.’s sound is more feel-good pop than experimental songwriting. The lyrics are insightful and the tunes are so catchy you find yourself singing along almost involuntarily. My iTunes play count for Aim & Ignite is already three times as many as any Format album.

Not surprisingly, the fun. show at Mercury Lounge sold out rapidly. Luckily I was able to get on the list last minute and dragged my very sick self to the Lower East Side. fun. did not make me regret it. Ruess’s talent is large and perfected enough for a musical theater career, but I’m oh-so-glad he belongs to rock and roll. Several times during the set his intensity was evidence by a red face, popping veins, and acute hyperventilation. He was matched by his band mates (which include Andrew Dost of Anathallo and Jack Antonoff of Steel Train) in enthusiasm and general humility and gratitude that they were able to get up on stage and be well-received by so many young fans who had wasted no time in learning every lyric on the album. I’ve tried to avoid using this word, but they look like they are genuinely having fun up there. And yes, the 4 to 5 part harmonies sound just as tight live as they do on the album.

A return of The Format? Not really. But will fun. satisfy mounds of fans both old and new? Hell yes.

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