fun. @ Metro Theatre, Sydney (25/7/12)

With mainstream American chart success behind them, it was perhaps with some surprise that audaciously named New York ‘indie popsters’ fun. were announced as part of the Splendour line-up this year. On their debut to Australian audiences, the Metro theatre was a sold out affair, with seemingly everyone from young families to jaded hipsters in attendance.

Single support act Melbourne trio Boy In A Box opened early with their raucous, upbeat and slightly-punk take on a modern rock n roll sound. Playing to an unfamiliar crowd is always tough, but they played with the conviction and showmanship of seasoned professionals, even if the mix subtracted a little from their edge. Singer Tobias Priddle’s strong vocals and hooks had me singing along to songs I had never even heard before. Keep an eye and ear out for this band, sure to make it big sometime soon.

As the banners were dropped to reveal the typeface for fun. onstage, the screams reached an ear-piercing level. The wait was not long and the Metro Theatre suddenly looked very crowded. The true strength of fun.’s music is the vocal prowess of frontman and founding member Nate Ruess. His tenor range and crystal clear voice cuts through and really carries the rest of the band, and sets them apart from their competition. That being said though, there doesn’t seem to be that much competition in their realm of unique progressive/piano/indie/cabaret/meta-pop. What impressed most is that live, Ruess’ vocals seemed to suffer very little from his antics onstage or lack of production.

Tearing through a set of both old and new material, the audience was eating out of their hands from the get-go with set opener One Foot. fun. have a tendency to write songs with rousing, anthemic singalongs, and there was no shortage of ‘whoa’s and ‘na na na’s throughout the night. The audience seemed to know every lyric, and not just for the hit singles either, which is always an impressive thing. Other set highlights included ballads Carry On, The Gambler, the slightly schizophrenic At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be), and newer tracks All Alone and All Alright– exploring themes of sadness and isolation, in a paradoxically uplifting and danceable manner.

Despite having major success in their home country, they appeared genuinely humbled by the reception given them by Sydney. ‘I had to fly 12 hours for this shit?’ Ruess asked sarcastically, before qualifying, ‘this is the sort of thing I’m going to call my mum about later and cry’. This added an endearing, personable touch to what potentially could’ve been a diva US act stomping through a foreign land.

By the time they played hit singles We Are Young and Some Nights (surprisingly, not the encore closer) the singalongs, fist-pumping and dancing were at a feverish high, and their promise to be back very soon assured fun. fans that Australia is now definitely on the band’s map in a permanent and special way.