Monday, March 12, 2012

My Evening with fun. and Sleeper Agent, a live show recap

"I want to go back."

That's the mindset I have been in ever since returning from the Workplay Theatre in Birmingham for fun.'s headlining show on March 10, also featuring Sleeper Agent and States.

The intimate setting of the small venue, combined with amazing performances and what could have easily been mistaken for choreographed sing-alongs left me driving back after the show with a sense of fulfillment.

But before we get to end, let's go back to the start.

Personally, I always try to get to shows in time to see the opening band perform. There have been times where the opener has actually been better than the headliner and I have discovered new favorites this way. Unfortunately for this certain event, I arrived just as States was finishing their set. Though I got there before the official 8 p.m. start time, they must have started early because by the time we walked in the venue they had played their last song. However, I do mention them because I checked them out before the show and was really looking forward to their performance. Maybe next time.

But I did get there just in time to find a spot and watch the guys and gal from Sleeper Agent get accustomed to the stage before exploding into their brief, but strong set. While this blog is fairly new, S/A is a band that has been featured on here plenty of times, with an introduction last July and again with Year-End recognition for their debut album Celebrasion.

Holding their songs in such high praise, I was looking forward to seeing them in a live setting and I was not disappointed. The band knows how to purely rock with lead-singer Alex Kandel at times resembling the siren-calmness among a sea of swirl-hair chaos, though not afraid to rough the waters herself.

The thing I really appreciated about Sleeper Agent is that they didn't let the fact that not many knew who they were get to them. They still powered through their sit that included the hits "Get it Daddy" and the recent single "Get Burned" and at one time was the recipient of a new fan saying "I don't know who you guys are, but I think you're great" (to which Kandel replied: "We don't know who you are, but we think you're great").

The band acknowledging the fans in the crowd that already knew the songs before the show. Before high-fiving here, Kandel held the mic for some to sing along with the bridge in "Be My Monster."

After the performance, I headed to the merch table hoping that a couple band members would be there to sign autographs and take pictures. To my surprise, Kandel came out within minutes and began working the table, taking the time to chat with those that came by. Believe me when I tell you she is one the nicest people you will ever meet and also believe me when I say that if you start to develop a slight musical crush on her that you won't be the only one.

After getting the autograph, it was time to regain our position for fun.'s performance. When I got back, I saw the stage now featured a backdrop with the letters "F U N." and screens in between each. We were in for a show.

Coming out to "Some Nights Intro," frontman Nate Ruess crooned the crowd while we all waited in anticipation for what was to come (much like the album itself). A cool moment came when a female in the crowd shouted "I LOVE YOU" just before Ruess delivered the line "And you have every right to be scared."

The band then exploded into the title track from the newest album, getting the crowd rocking and swaying back and forth. I'm not sure if it was a goal in the making of Some Nights, but some of the tracks presented,  such as "It Gets Better," seemed destined to be performed live and the crowd reacted as such.

But admittedly, something I didn't expect took place throughout the night. While fun. is currently riding a popular wave right now with the success of "We Are Young," the crowd really came alive when tracks from Aim and Ignite were played. "Be Calm" was done as more of an acoustic-piano version and when asked to "sing along if you know the words" it was as if the whole crowd was part of the band during "The Gambler."

Even the final song of the night came from A&I, as "Take Your Time" sent everyone happy after a night of jumping up and down and swaying along with one of the funnest bands going today.

Personally, the whole night was one I won't forget. Concerts are something that when I go, I anticipate a full experience, not just basically listening to some songs I like only much louder. Both fun. and Sleeper Agent gave me that and I look forward to the night when I can do it all over again.

Bonus track:

Usually I don't have time to do the "stalk the tour bus till the band comes out" thing, but with the show on a Saturday night, I was determined to try it. After waiting a little bit in the cold night/morning, Ruess and Jack Antonoff came by and seemed almost honored to sign autographs and take pictures.
I had asked that, since he was doing so many standard poses, we could do something fun. He said he would do his eskimo face. I tried myself but ended up laughing when the picture was snapped.
A really cool moment came at the end of the signing/posing when a fan asked Ruess what a certain line from "It Gets Better" (Like starlight crashing through the room / we'll lose our feathers) was supposed to mean. At first he responded by asking them what they thought it meant and each answer was met with a shake of his head. Finally he gave an explanation that I thought at the last-minute to hit record in order to capture.

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