Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Fun. pleases fans old and new

Photo by Kerry Wade
Bleachers’ lead singer Jack Antonoff performed with the band fun. at Calvin in 2012. Calvin asked fun. not to bring along LGBTQ+ advocacy organization The Ally Coalition — a group that will be present with Bleachers on Sept. 17, according to Antonoff’s Twitter.

In light of the recent controversy surrounding Fun.’s presence at Calvin, it’s easy to forget that they are first and foremost a group of performers. They aren’t a group of politicians or leftist radicals. They’re artists. Regardless of your beliefs, Fun. deserved a presence at our college by the merits of their art alone.

Glitzy lights, big stage, sold-out arena — never before has such a bombastic concert been held at Calvin. Not only was this the biggest concert Calvin has ever hosted, but it was one of the biggest crowds Fun. had ever performed for.

I’ve seen Fun. live several times now. It’s been a pleasure to watch them go from an ignored opening act at a Paramore concert to headlining sold-out shows. But after seeing them before, I was worried that I’ve seen all that they have to offer — what if I get bored? I’ve over-listened their music to the point of chronically skipping them when listening to my iPod on random.

But halfway into the opening song “Carry On,” I leaned over to my friend and said, “I forgot how great Fun. shows are!” The drums are loud and bright, the guitar and piano play off each other with happy riffs, and Nate Ruess’ voice soars over it all with more sincerity and power than the entire top 40 chart combined.

Fun. burst from song to song without ever stopping to catch their breath; lengthening songs in places and adding plenty of musical interludes. As a live act, they excel.

A Fun. show wouldn’t be a Fun. show without being…fun. They don’t write dance music, but they do write music brimming with joy. At the end of “Barlights,” when the lights were brightest and the music loudest, Fun. flooded the arena with confetti while jubilantly singing “I feel alive.”

Whether stomping and fist-pumping to “Some Nights,” waving their phones during “Stars,” or zealously singing every word of every song, the audience always fed Fun.’s atmosphere.

One of the highlights of the night was their performance of their chart-topping single “We Are Young.” Normally, I don’t like this song. But live, it works. Towards the end, Ruess asked the audience to sing along with him, which they eagerly did, and for a while, he just stood and listened. In response, all he could say was, “Wow. You guys are awesome.”

Thankfully, the night’s set list included a good mix of old and new. Unfortunately, some of Fun.’s best tracks from the old album still got left by the wayside. I was really hoping for “Be Calm” or  “Walking the Dog,” but both were left out to make space for more music from “Some Nights.”

And, of course, the show wasn’t without its message. During the encore, before playing their song “One Foot,” lead guitarist Jack Antonoff said, “Some of us here believe in God and some of us don’t, but those of us who do know that God loves black people, white people, men, women and … we also know that God loves gay people.”

He’s right, of course. But, right or wrong, it doesn’t matter. We engage with music when it is well-crafted, thoughtful and good; not when it aligns with every point on our list of beliefs.

At the end of the show, right before the very last song, Nate held up two fingers and breathlessly told the audience “Two. Top two show.”

After all the hubbub leading up to this show, I’m glad we could give that to them.

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