Show Review + Photos: fun. at The Grand Opera House

At the beginning of this month, Macon was graced with a performance by one of the most reveled names in current R&B/pop music; Janelle Monáe and her band stopped in town at Mercer University as part of the Campus Consciousness Tour and brought with them indie-pop group FUN (for formatting purposes, we’re going to list the band in that manner but they’re usually listed as “fun.”). FUN is the creation of Nate Ruess, the former singer and songwriter of now-defunct group The Format. Ruess began writing what would eventually evolve into FUN’s music by himself before enlisting the help of close friends Nate Dost (Anathallo) and Jack Antonoff (Steel Train) and completing a full-length album titled Aim & Ignite, released in 2008. Since then, the band has toured around the world with the likes of Manchester Orchestra, Paramore, Jack’s Mannequin, Vedera, Reliant K and many more. To say the least, it was a real treat to have them in Macon and the crowd that was their that night will more than agree.

Following an unexpected opening performance by Timothy Bloom (who featured an incredible Otis Redding cover) , FUN took the stage to the shrieking applause of the crowd ( while there were all ages of attendees, the cluster nearest to the stage was made up of 15-22 year old girls eager at the chance to lock eyes with Ruess and his band ) and barreled through favorites from Aim & Ignite like “Roman Candle”, “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)”, “All The Pretty Girls”,”Be Calm” and their newest single “We Are Young” featuring Ms. Monae herself. It was clear that the band was on a schedule as Ruess and his band mates had little intimate interaction with the crowd, aside from the occasional comment between songs as they swapped instruments and moved around the stage.

The band seemed more than comfortable performing in a giant, multi-level, seating only theater and while everyone in the crowd was on their feet during the bands set, they seemed quite out of place to me. Anyone that is familiar with the band knows their music features theatrical and dramatic styling similar to Queen, David Bowie and of course their own previous groups, but they personally would have been much more enjoyable in a smaller and more personal venue. They’ve never been a band I considered to be “rock stars” and even though their presence seemed a bit over the top and rehearsed, they pulled it off exquisitely well. I think I was just personally a bit taken aback by the band as I’ve been waiting to see them since Aim & Ignite came out and it wasn’t necessarily the introduction that I was hoping for. I think the band and I would have felt much more at home in a packed house at The Drunken Unicorn or The EARL, but they played to the crowd of around 600 like they were in an arena.

All my issues with the show are somewhat personal and probably aren’t shared by many other people. The bottom line is that FUN put on amazing show. They adapted well to the environment and made sure that the crowd was happily satisfied upon the conclusion of their set. My hopes are that these guys will make their way back through the South sometime soon and stop at a venue that feels more comfortable and suitable. would like to thank Mercer University, QuadWorks, Annie Biggs, Nate Ruess & FUN, and the entire Campus Consciousness Tour.

– Sean Pritchard

Have you seen our photos of headliner Janelle Monáe’s set?