As a rookie Angeleno, I’ve been dying to get to LA’s famous Greek Theatre. It’s a rite of passage for any LA resident, and as a (so-called) music writer who’d never been there, I’ve felt like a cred-less tool. Fortunately, I had the opportunity one warm night last week to pop my Greek cherry, and thanks to fun. and Tegan and Sara, it was every bit the tender, gentle experience I’d hoped it would be.
To begin with, The Greek is beautiful. It’s everything I love about outdoor venues — the open air, the buzzing communal vibe, the night sky as a backdrop — combined with the easy access to food, drink, and seating of an indoor venue. (I’d feel remiss if I didn’t mention the incredibly helpful and courteous staff I encountered at every level of the experience, as well. As LAmb’s resident bumbling idiot, I’m accustomed to my “help, where do I go”-style questions being met with eye rolls and general snottiness, and I didn’t catch even a whiff of that kind of attitude at The Greek. So thanks for that, guys.)
Canadian twins Tegan and Sara kicked off the night. Despite their lengthy career — they performed at Lilith Fair in 1999, for crying out loud! — they’re new to me, and so I found myself very impressed by their easy, genuine stage presence and their androgynous appeal.
Their clear voices and earnest songwriting brought to mind other great female artists, making me realize once again how woefully I neglect women in my musical endeavors. They’re like twin Sinead O’ Connors with the occasional bit of Tori Amos or dash of the Cranberries thrown in, or maybe as if Dave Matthews had a sex change and split in two. They’re definitely a talented pair of pixies, cute as buttons both, and I mean that in the least patronizing way possible.
Thanks to The Greek’s sweet layout, I was able to view a good part of Tegan and Sara’s set on a huge, conveniently located video screen while eating a grilled cheese sandwich at a comfortable table outside the theatre proper. There, I was able to do several of the things I do best simultaneously: eat cheese, listen to music, and silently judge the people passing by me. Don’t ever say I’m not a multitasker.
fun. is a band that’s uniquely close to my heart. Before I moved to LA, I’d heard “We Are Young” and “Some Nights” (of course — how could I have avoided them?), but it wasn’t until I came out here and listened to their albums that I realized that they are, in essence, the mascot for all of us who have come here seeking fame and fortune. Their lyrics are an open book that any of us could have written, detailing all of the familiar self-doubt and struggle that paves the anonymous road to indefinite success. I’m feelin’ it, in other words, and so the show promised to be an emotional experience for me. I was not disappointed.
Frontman Nate Ruess was electrifying. He clearly enjoys playing to the crowd and was nonstop energy for the entire performance. “I want to raise the dead tonight!” he screamed to our raucous delight. And the pipes on that guy! As if I don’t miss Freddie Mercury enough.
Jack Antonoff’s Brian May-style guitar complements him perfectly, too, but don’t think for a second that they’re just some cheap Queen rip-off. Their myriad influences are so apparent — one moment you’d swear you’re hearing a jumpsuited ghost straight from Wembley Stadium, and the next you’re awash in ’80s synth-pop against a reggae bassline with some old-fashioned rock and roll thrown in just for funsies.
Having listened to Some Nights ad nauseum for a few months, you’d think I’d have been prepared for the raw intensity of hearing it live, but nope. I’ll be the first to admit that some tears flowed. fun. is just that powerful.
Particularly notable was their cover of the Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” which was thrilling for a Stones fan like me. They put some stank on it, too, with a ridiculous nasty distorted guitar riff before a final chorus that made my rock and roll heart sing.
I left The Greek one happy customer, and I can’t wait to go back. There’s nowhere I’d rather have experienced fun., who has provided so much of the soundtrack to my LA adventure, and now I can rest easy knowing that my LA cred is safe for another day.
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