Fun. at the Santa Barbara Bowl
Paul Wellman

fun. — makers of those indie pop/stadium rock ballads that flood commercial radio — filled Santa Barbara Bowl with high-energy renditions of their sometimes folksy, but mostly pop-y, hits on Saturday night.

Opening the show with a teaser intro to their newest hit single, “Some Nights,” the band predictably skipped out on a full performance of the song and shot right into a setlist of lesser-known numbers, beginning with “One Foot.” With the surrounding scenery drenched in neon lights matching the highs and lows of lead singer Nate Ruess’s dramatic — and even Freddy Mercury-esque — vocals, the Bowl made the perfect venue for fun.’s unapologetically righteous, sing-along hits.

But that spirited stadium rock can get a little worn out, and upon the band’s performance of “Barlights”— a song off their less commercially successful debut album Aim and Ignite — you could feel a little more substance and less chorus-filler, a quintessential feature of all those punchy Some Nights album hits.

While performing “Barlights,” the drummer flew into a solo, carrying the concert to its climax. When confetti burst over the crowd at its finale, the audience rose to its feet, and as the confetti cloud melodramatically floated downward and the music gradually fell to a silence, each band member hit the floor. Such a scene is exactly what fun. is all about — it’s dramatic, theatrical, take-it-or-leave-it performance that doesn’t try to be anything more.

Not surprisingly, the band saved all the hits for last, performing “Carry On” and the Grammy award-winning “We Are Young” later in the show, before they dragged the concert to an encore featuring a tired cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” after which the mood was picked up once more with a closing performance of “Some Nights.”


1. “Some Nights” (Intro)

2. “One Foot”

3. “Walking the Dog”

4. “All Alone”

5. “At Least I’m Not as Sad (As I Used to Be)”

6. “Why Am I the One”

7. “All the Pretty Girls”

8. “It Gets Better”

9. “Barlights”

10. “Carry On”

11. “The Gambler”

12. “Born to Run”

13. “We Are Young”

14. “Some Nights”

15. “Stars”


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