Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Show Review: fun. @ Jammin' Java, Vienna, VA (9-18-09)

by John Anderson, Guest Reviewer

Do you like joy?

Before we get started, there are a couple of things you should know about your humble guest blogger. Thing the First: The only shows I have ever blogged are shows that I loved. Thing the Second: I was a big fan of The Format. As a corollary to Thing the Second, I should probably also mention that I am a complete sucker for the hooks and harmonies that are a killer power pop band’s stock in trade.

By my lights, The Format were unquestionably a killer power pop band, and it was a sad day when I learned they had broken up, especially given that I had only been privileged to see them live on a single occasion (majestic though that single occasion was). The sadness I felt at the news of The Format’s breakup, however, was later countered by the happy news that fun. had risen, Phoenix-like, from the ashes. Ever since that day, I waited anxiously for news of an album and/or tour.

fun.’s debut album, Aim and Ignite, dropped last month, and it’s a power pop gem which feels like a natural extension of The Format. As such, it only served to further excite me at the prospect of their then-upcoming show in Vienna, VA. The best way I can think to describe that recent show at Jammin' Java is to employ the words Jon Stewart used in response to a Springsteen show: “Do you like joy?”

I wouldn’t presume to speak for the remainder of the capacity crowd, but joy was certainly what I was feeling throughout the hourlong set with which fun. graced the crowd. Is it even possible to not feel joy, or to not find oneself covered in goose bumps in response to soaring harmonies, more hooks than a professional fisherman’s tackle box, and a band comprised of members who not only clearly love their job but who just as clearly put their hearts and souls into their art? It’s not possible if you’re me. (Yes, I know you’re not me. Work with me here.) There’s something magical about a show which features those qualities, and I’m here to testify that there was more than a little magic in the night that Friday.

The set list included all ten songs from Aim and Ignite, and every one was extremely well received by the crowd, as well as a pair of songs from The Format catalogue, the crowd reaction to which I can only describe as rapturous:

Set: At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used To Be), I Wanna Be The One, All The Pretty Girls, Light A Roman Candle With Me, Dog Problems, Barlights, Walking The Dog, The Gambler, Be Calm, Benson Hedges

Encore: The First Single, Take Your Time

Quite possibly the best news of the night, both for those who were fortunate to witness the band’s first area appearance and, perhaps most especially, for those who weren’t able to get in, was the announcement by bandleader Nate Ruess just prior to their final song of the night: “We’ll be back really, really, really soon.”

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