Even friars need to take a break now and then. Yes, even American friars. The National Catholic Reporter columnist John Allen began his latest piece this week with the funny reference to the typically Roman saying about the caricature of workaholism that plagues US citizens: “An old Roman quip holds that the only things moving during August are cani e americani, meaning dogs and Americans.” In the spirit of the Italian ferragosto, the traditional August summer holiday season, I spent a sweltering hot day hanging out with some friends in the “city of brotherly love” and taking in a very entertaining, sold-out concert by the indie rock band fun.
Those who have read DatingGod.org for a while might have picked up on a few of my personal likes and dislikes — my rabid enthusiasm for my alma mater‘s men’s and women’s basketball teams (St. Bonaventure University), my particular appreciation for the musician Jason Mraz (who I’ve now seen 10 times in concert, the 11th concert coming up in a few weeks), and other idiosyncratic dimensions of Dan Horan. Add to that list my like of the band fun., especially live.
Most people are likely familiar with their radio-hit “We Are Young,” which was featured on the television show Glee, a popular 2012 Super Bowl commercial, and maintained a top-billboard spot for six weeks during the Spring.
What most people aren’t likely to know is that this is, at least in my opinion, not their best song (although it’s anthem-like rhythm and popularity makes it a crowd-pleaser no less). In fact, while I like many of their songs, I most appreciate each of their albums (they have two studio releases so far) as a collective whole.
They’ve been compared to the renowned classic-rock band Queen, and with good reason. Although Nate Ruess, the lead singer and frontman of fun. is no Freddie Mercury (as my friend aptly, if obviously, said yesterday), but then again there really is no one comparable, the stylistic similarities and diversity of the setlist is unmistakably evocative of their 70s British predecessor.
Both of fun.‘s albums to date, Aim and Ignite and Some Nights, each begin with elaborate songs that serve as overtures for the collection that follows. The songs are, by and large, very catchy but creative in their rhythmic variations and composition (a feat well played given that Nate, the lead singer, does not read music nor play an instrument, suggesting some serious teamwork).
In an age when chart-topping singles and individual song-downloads on iTunes has eclipsed the 1970s and 1980s emphasis on creating an album that was an integrated whole work of art, fun. stands as a notable exception and a breath of fresh air. That, and their live performances still bear the wonder and enthusiasm of a start-up band not yet used to fame, glory, and entitlement. It was very touching at points during the show in Philadelphia last night when Nate was made speechless by the experience of performing in front of such an enthusiastic and large crowd. Things have definitely changed for the group.
So, you can add fun. to the list of curious aspects of my personality of which you are now aware. I encourage you to check them out, but there are no guarantees that you’ll share my personal musical tastes. For, as the saying goes: De gustibus non est disputandum; or, to put it more colloquially, “to each their own!”