fun. and Steel Train at Culture Room, December 8


With Steel Train and the Postelles

Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

fun. (all lowercase, period at the end) is the brainchild of Nate Ruess, whose distinctive vocals you recognize

from the Format. His backing band of Andrew Dost and Steel Train's Jack Antonoff came

onstage Wednesday with a bang and didn't let the energy drop for a moment. The

air was so electric, in fact, that the mic actually sparked and almost

electrocuted Ruess, who made sure the audience was unharmed, then kept

on powering through the show.

Wiry and dressed in tweed pants with suspenders, Ruess looked like a modern-day Oliver Twist, singing his heart out for his supper. All of the musicians were clearly stoked to be onstage, dancing with one another, smiling vibrantly, and jumping around with abandon. Even Antonoff, who had just finished a 45-minute set!

fun. didn't take themselves too seriously, even though the crowd took them really (REALLY) seriously. As I scanned the audience, I noticed that nearly everyone was mouthing the words to every song, and there was even one girl on the balcony with tears in her eyes. But don't let the driving rhythms, cheerful chords, grand piano swells, doo-wop harmonies, and Ruess' youthful voice fool you. This is a band of serious musicians; their songs are thoughtfully crafted, and beautifully executed. I want so badly to say they sound like the Format, but this project is much more dynamic and theatrical.

Clean and joyful progressive pop will hopefully never go out of style, but in case it does, fun.'s crafty songwriting and earnest delivery will carry them through. The fans called for "one more song!" and when they got two, they called for another. fun. ended up playing a 20-minute encore before exiting the stage a final time, exhilarated. It was a great performance, and we all had FUN! (See what I did there?)

Prior to that, the Postelles, sounded a lot like Vampire Weekend meets the Strokes

(but more sober), and Steel Train thrilled the audience with its

snappy, feel-good indie pop. Though seasoned, this band

hasn't had it easy. For anyone who remembers the early 2000s, when

pop-punk reigned supreme, Steel Train is a familiar name (having headed

up Drive Thru Records' roster from 2002-09), though its sound and

lineup have changed so dramatically that they're almost unrecognizable.

This performance featured mostly songs off of its third full-length, Steel Train,

released on their own imprint, Terrible Thrills, this past June. The

audience was completely along for the ride, tapping their toes along

with the driving beats, singing along to the sweet harmonies, swaying

and hugging their friends.

Critic's Notebook:

Interesting fact: The Postelles' debut was actually coproduced by the Strokes' Albert Hammond Jr., which explains a lot.

Something to look forward to: Steel Train will record its next LP this year, according to bassist Evan Winiker; it's already finished arranging two new songs for it.

Quote worth repeating: "I really hate gimmicky band names, but these guys live up to it." - @ericreator on fun.

-- Sarah Penello

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