If you came to KTCL's Not So Silent Night at the 1STBANK Center last night expecting to hear "We Are Young"-like songs for the duration of fun.'s almost two-hour set, you were disappointed. That's not to say that the rest of the songs paled to the Billboard topping track. Rather, fun.'s set was much better than its career-changing single. More importantly, however, Nate Ruess turned in a performance that would've made Freddie Mercury proud with his vocals and stage presence and overall awesomeness.
For his part, Ruess worked the 1STBANK Center last night like a bandleader. The only thing missing from the set was the USC Marching Band. Really. Ruess tried on multiple occasions to lead the sold-out audience through songs to which they didn't really know the words, or the ooh's or aah's, well enough to sing back at him. Imagine if Freddie Mercury was trying to lead a "Bohemian Rhapsody" sing-along to a crowd that had never heard the song -- it was like that on all but "Some Nights" and "We Are Young."
Undeterred, Ruess continued marching onward, singing with the range and power of a church organ playing rock tunes. "Some Nights" was an absolute marvel, and Ruess had a few vocal runs that could've given rock gods like Elton and Freddie a run for their money on "Why Am I The One." Really, fun. was not an alternative rock band last night. It was a classic rock band a few decades too late, and the audience was all the more grateful for it.
Better yet, the lyrics to fun.'s songs clicked better live than they ever would on record. Maybe it was because Ruess emoted the shit out of every song, or maybe it was having 7,000 people to sing along to "It Gets Better" -- a song about losing one's virginity that blazed like a rally cry for the modern masses -- really did make it all better.
With great rock power, however, comes great rock responsibility. And that was abused by fun.'s multiple tempo changes -- sometimes in the same song. The beat shifts made it difficult to connect with the songs long enough to enjoy them, and the barrage of songs following this formula hit like a voice crack in a high note -- hard and seemingly never-ending. But that was fun.'s redeeming feature: No matter how suddenly the tempo changed, Ruess continued to rock on, taking the audience with him (without actual cracks in his voice). "Carry On," a poignant song with mildly relatable lyrics, was the most guilty of this.
Besides "Some Nights," fun. at its best, "One Foot" was the most exciting song of the bunch. The brass blasted throughout the song and, unlike later tunes in the set, had a consistent beat. The lights matching the claps of the drums during the chorus were a nice touch, too. Better yet, about one minute in the song, Ruess and his band members had to cut the music -- remember, we're talking about the music for the set opener here -- to soak in what was happening. Not So Silent Night was the biggest show fun. headlined in 2012 and, as Ruess admitted, it was the perfect way to end a pretty fun year for the band (they did just get nominated for six Grammys, after all).
Fun. was a blast of rock that was much needed after a more melancholy set by Of Monsters and Men. The Icelandic five-piece played well, especially as their instruments all gelled together, but there just wasn't the same energy as fun. -- or the Not So Silent Night opener, Churchill, for that matter. The first three songs from Of Monsters And Men ran more like lullabies than performances. You might expect such a moody, down-tempo song in the middle of a set, but to open it, and set the whole performance's pace, was a misstep.
"Mountain Sound" was the jolt of energy Of Monsters and Men's set needed. Unfortunately, however, it didn't return again until "Little Talks" near the end. Everything in between was good to sit through. Special kudos to Of Monsters and Men's female trumpet player -- who also played the keys and accordion -- for really taking "Little Talks" to another level with a surprise trumpet solo.
Churchill had a wonderful stage presence led by Bethany Kelly in appropriately funky boots. Her tambourine antics were mesmerizing, but the amount of movement those boots saw on that stage was more than most women's boots see at the Grizzly Rose over the course of a month. Besides stage presence -- and the way Churchill looked like they were having the best time up there -- their sound was much too explosive for 1STBANK Center. "Changes" and "The Surgeon" would have sounded much better in a festival environment than this one. Even so, Churchill was absolutely great.
Personal Bias: I haven't had a lot of exposure to Of Monsters And Men and fun. outside of their big breakthrough albums this year.
Random Detail: Apparently coon-skin hats -- you know, Davey Crockett style -- are making a comeback. Or at least they were on one Not So Silent Night attendee last night. Girl rocked it.
By the Way: One of the merch shirts for fun. read on the front: "It's all fun. and gay 'til someone loses their rights." A band that is outspoken on gay rights even on its T-shirts? Hell yeah.
fun. 1STBANK Center - 12/13/12 Broomfield, CO
One Foot Carry On At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used To Be) All Alone Why Am I The One All The Pretty Girls It Gets Better Barlights The Gambler Some Nights Stars
We Are Young You Can't Always Get What You Want (Cover)
Of Monsters And Men 1STBANK Center - 12/13/12 Broomfield, CO
Dirty Paws From Finner Slow And Steady Mountain Sound Love Love Love King And Lionheart Lakehouse Little Talks Six Weeks
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