Festival Blog: Fevers and fun. deliver at Bluesfest
It could have been the busiest day of the festival so far, and perhaps even stressful for the anxious masses that gathered and engaged in drunken revelry, but it only added to the energy of the musical groups who were fortunate enough to play on this day.
Ottawa electro-pop outfit Fevers started their day off right on the Claridge stage, performing for a crowd who didn’t let the onslaught of rain hinder their enjoyment.
The band roused the crowd with “Goodnight,” the first song on the setlist, which had vocalist Sarah Bradley pleading “don’t leave me alone” amid New Wave sensibilities and ethereal melodies.
Other bandmembers, including guitarist and vocalist Colin MacDougall, appeared cool and confident as they talked to the audience. It was, after all, their second year in a row to be selected by Bluesfest.
“I’d like to dedicate this song to the rain,” MacDougall joked as the rain spewed unforgivingly. “The rain is part of the show, because it’s sombre.”
The solemn song in question was “Beatnik,” and upon finishing the track, whistles and cheers were heard. It was the perfect device to foreshadow the next song, the synth and bass heavy “They Don’t Lie.”
By the time Fevers performed their seventh song, “Zombies,” the tacit Baroque Pop feel was apparent, albeit without the exotic instruments that most people can’t name. Instead, its approach was actualized by layered vocals and impeccable, hard hitting drumming by Mike Stauffer.
But Fevers weren’t finished yet. Not until Colin MacDougall could sneak in more jokes, which he delivered with a confidence unusual for most startup bands.
This confidence was perpetuated with the unique, glam-rock sounds of “Dance Cry Dance,” a groovy track that showed why Fevers deserved to rock Ottawa Bluesfest for a second consecutive year.
Hours later, on the main stage, fans waited for Lena Dunham’s boyfriend’s band—I mean fun.—to play. But first, some meditations on fun. need to be had.
First, I’ve never seen such a good band with so many haters. Why? Because they have virtually no indie cred. They have sold out. They’re on every radio station. But why do we care? Shouldn’t talented musicians become successful? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?
Frontman Nate Ruess was previously successful in a band called The Format, an indie rock band that existed from 2001-2008 and scored teenage guilty pleasures like prime time drama One Tree Hill and “reality television” show Laguna Beach. But you know what? If it’s good for the music supervisors of wildly successful shows like Laguna Beach and One Tree Hill, it’s good enough for me.
Needless to say, it was difficult to gather enough enthusiastic friends to see fun. Either they only knew their one massive single “We Are Young” and did not deem this adequate to watch an entire performance, or they were incredibly “meh” about the band.
Here’s why fun. is not, in fact, “meh.”
They opened the show in tuxedos and bowties like they were in a broadway musical, and the musicianship had that dark cabaret feel that angry hipsters love, but that also appeals to those comfortable enough with their identities to enjoy mainstream music.
Nate Ruess is a modern day Freddie Mercury. From his white structured jacket that he threw off like Channing Tatum in Magic Mike, to his innate ability to please a tired crowd, Ruess oozes flamboyant sex appeal.
Ruess and his bandmates can transition from hyper back into raw, impassioned songs, and then run into the crowd without losing their breath. Ruess even scolded someone in the crowd for smoking a cigarette, although the way he said it was adorable.
Even though the crowd was still coming down from the high of seeing Wu-Tang Clan in real life, the band joked that they couldn’t stop thinking about Wu-Tang themselves, and encouraged the crowd to put their hands in a “W” and to yell “Wu-Tang.”
They showed Ottawa how much they appreciated the crowd’s response, with lengthy moments of silence and Ruess clapping towards the audience.
He told us he was having a good time, over and over again. Which creates good vibes all around. Who wants to be at a show where the frontman looks like he hates you, especially after you’ve blown 50 dollars for a day pass, or even more monetary damage for a full festival pass?
Fun. gave a goosebumps-inducing rendition of “We Are Young,” where everyone in the crowd, including the mothers and fathers in tow, sang along. It was staggering to see the sheer bliss on everyone’s faces, and you could tell the band members really dug it.
Nate Ruess and Jack Antonoff were wearing meggings. Yes. Man leggings. Like I said about myself and One Tree Hill: If meggings are good enough for Dolce and Gabbana, they’re good enough for the talented, humble members of fun.