Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Scene report: Fun. tapes ‘Austin City Limits’

Pam LeBlanc
pleblanc@statesman.com

Editor’s note: This article was originally published September 15, 2013

Fun., the New York band with the strange punctuation, revved up an Austin crowd Friday, turning an “Austin City Limits” taping into a pop anthem sing-along and celebration of hitting the musical big time.

The trio won a pair of Grammys in February for Best New Artist and Song of the Year for “We Are Young.” But recording an episode of “ACL,” lead singer Nate Ruess said, made for a special evening.

“So here we are. If you don’t know who you got free tickets for, this is the band Fun.,” Ruess joked.

Serious fame has been long coming for Ruess, who formed Fun. after leaving the critically acclaimed the Format. He brought in Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff, also seasoned musicians.

“The three of us are so much older than we look,” Ruess said.

But 31’s not really old, even for a band whose biggest hit capitalizes on the exuberance of youth.

In recent years, the group performed at Beerland, then Emo’s, then the small stage at Stubb’s, then the big room at Stubb’s, before making it to ACL Live for the long-running music show that airs on PBS station KLRU. Finally performing here meant playing “on the stage that means the most artistically for us,” Antonoff said.

The result? A performance with a vaguely ‘80s vibe and some serious charisma from Ruess.

He worked the joint hard, opening wide and yelping out lyrics, careening around the stage and leading the audience in clapping along when he wanted them to and hushing up when he didn’t. It all made for a stellar show, especially on anthems like “Some Nights,” “Carry On” and even a cover of the Rolling Stone’s “Can’t Always Get What You Want.” A rendition of the smash hit “We Are Young” had everyone belting it out, regardless of age.

And unlike some concerts, where the live versions of songs sound nothing like the recorded ones, the 13-song set, which included “All the Pretty Girls,” “One Foot” and “The Gambler,” sounded remarkably true to digital.

The only surprise? Instead of the narrow ties and suit coats they often don, the guys went for skinny jeans, sneakers and a smattering of black leather.

Now if they could just drop the period from their name, too.