fun. / Avalanche City @ The Independent, San Francisco – 3/28/12

I’ll admit, I started out with a bias against the crowd. A sold out show promoted by the radio station Live 105 meant, to me, one thing: the majority would be fans who’d heard fun.’s single on the radio (or on the super bowl commercial) and weren’t at all interested in the band as a whole at all. At first, that bias seemed confirmed. The venue, which usually smells of that ol’ indelible concert scent of spilled beer, lingering smoke and sweat, was heavy on a wide variation of college-y perfumes. There were gaggles of girls refilling their vodka-sodas at an impressive (yet troubling) clip. Someone asked me if there was going to be an opening band. All signs pointed to a soon-to-be distracted crowd, uninterested in even the headliner until the big song came on. A lesson against judgment: I couldn’t have been more wrong.

This was extremely apparent when, the opener, Avalanche City took the stage. Their entrance elicited woos, even though it’s the New Zealand based band’s first US tour and only a handful of fans seemed to know about them.  A girl upfront complemented a band member on her “nice dress”….I didn’t think those pleasantries happened at shows anymore. Everyone seemed to be paying more attention than I was (and I was the one writing a review!). Well, the attention was for good reason.  Despite the fact that they are infants on the music scene they’re quickly blossoming (their single “Love, Love, Love” is now the fastest selling single in New Zealand history), and showed poise and sincerity.They were excited and joyful throughout the set, which was very apparent as the two un-mic’d band members mouthed the words sung by Baxter. A refreshing sight for sure. As Baxter sang each song, the other two band members rotated behind him, switching between violin, trombone, keyboard, accordion and a set of xylophones. The music itself was sprite and hopeful; mostly happy songs about love. I’d be surprised if they don’t catch on here. They’ve got the backing of a major label and the sound to ride the wave….as long as they continue the love they’ll be more than fine.

It’s tempting to describe fun. as I always have. They are, very obviously, fun. But they’ve become more than that now. The band is pulling a bigger sound and fill it comfortably (unlike some up-and-coming bands who seem like they’re wearing a sound 5 sizes too big). The nature of their songs – bombastic and emotional – helps of course. But, now they have that little extra spice that differentiates them from being a band you “just can’t understand how they’re not HUGE right now,” to one that is about to burst on the scene and hold its own. This comes from years of experience (which each member of the trio surely has), but also from accepting everything great about playing the type of music they do. As frontman Nate Ruess said, “If you knew me, you’d know I’m really happy right now.” Whether you know him or not, you could tell the whole way through the set as the whole band grinned widely while watching the writhing crowd. Comfortable bands dance onstage. Comfortable bands invite the crowd to scream profanities for 30 seconds just to add to the already overwhelming energy. Everyone could tell nothing they did was a schtick. It was all genuine, all that energy. It was all….I guess I have to….fun.

-Written and photographed by Patrick Kelly