Photo by Meghan Benson
Jack, Nate, and Andrew gathered a small group of people to a bar last week (2/24) for a one-off, special performance to celebrate the release of their brilliant, rising album Some Nights
. It was a small set with a small audience, but the quality and temperament seemed to suggest some larger jumping point for a band that seems to have nowhere to go but to the stars.
A while back, the space currently occupied by Sons Of Essex (the bar/restaurant on Manhattan's Lower East Side that played host to the band) used to house a Southern-themed joint with a mechanical bull pit. Many (including myself) have been flung onto the ground in that space as a result of drunken bravado/sheer stupidity. So it was only fitting that when fun
played their small, intimate acoustic, they performed from this hallowed space where so many before them, vulnerable (perhaps from ludicrous amounts of whiskey, or just dumb bravery), have put themselves out there at the mercy of a gaggle of onlookers. But instead of a nerves and visible acts of stupidity, the three musicians commanded the audience like old pros, and they are, after all, a bunch of seasoned auteurs who craft little two-minute bursts of magic that seem brilliant with any arrangement.
While the album dresses up the songs with Kanye-influenced autotune extravaganzas, it's easy to see the sheer power of the core songwriting in such an intimate space. Nate's natural voice, still wonderfully crisp after all these years, feels electric at every turn. The staff provided attendees with a swag-bag filled with stickers, a copy of the album, and even a fun-themed coozy, but the real prize of the evening was seeing the raw power of the band behind what will be one of the year's biggest songs (and perhaps album), up close and and personal.
A heart-felt speech from their label (Fueled By Ramen) confirmed that everyone in the room-- even those required to be there by job titles-- were genuine fans. And that's the most exciting kind of act to see, in any setting.