Fun performs at SXSW
Something absolutely disastrous happened to the boys in Fun on Wednesday night. But then something magical happened as well, and it convinced me more than ever to keep an eye on this group of musicians (especially when they come to play Middle of the Map Fest next month).

The band was set to play 1100 Warehouse at SXSW. It was one of the most anticipated acts of the week, with concert-goers lining up around the block to get into the massive venue. Once they got in, they were greeted with a hot and sweaty mess, a lack of air conditioning or any air flow, and barely any room to move in the overly packed area near the stage.

Tribes had just wrapped up their set and Fun was supposed to go on at 10:00 p.m. By 10:10 p.m., folks were still chatty and excited for the band. By 10:30, they got restless, overheated, and shouty while sound guys scrambled all over the stage. By 10:35, everyone was aware that something had gone wrong. Sound checks were being given, but nothing was coming out. Now more employees were scrambling about with cords and mic cables. The fans were getting overly testy, and booed and hissed relentlessly. It was deafening.

Fun performs at SXSW
At about 10:50 p.m., some radio host came out and explained (through a mic that was FINALLY working) that there had been some technical difficulties, but we would get a Fun performance that night. The band came on at about 11:00 p.m., and lead singer Nate Ruess laid into the venue. “This is fucking bullshit, I’m sorry, I’m sorry about this guys, this is not us.” He promised additional shows and then, along with the help of two band members, delivered a bare-bones acoustic set (with the piano only working half of the time).

I found it admirable that they delivered an acoustic performance. I had been stoked all week over getting the opportunity to see Lawrencian Nate Harold play bass in the band, but he (understandably) was not present for this acoustic performance. I remember watching him as far back as his Kelpie days, and have always enjoyed seeing him involved in different musical projects.

The band played about four or five songs and saved “We Are Young” as the big finale. Just as they asked the audience to sing along for the big bridge, the sound 100% completely gave out (for the final time that night), and a collective gasp was heard.

But before Ruess could even react, the audience (without missing a beat) not only sang the bridge, but continued the rest of the song acapella. It definitely surprised Ruess, and you could almost see happy tears in his eyes. Here was a packed, sweaty, large group of disappointed fans, and instead of cursing the band for a frustrating night, they carried the rest of the song for them. You couldn’t ask for a more overwhelming show of support.

It was unbelievably touching to see the look in a musician’s eyes when he realizes just how much support he has from his fan-base. The final words of the song are “I’ll carry you home tonight,” and that’s exactly what the fans did.

Catch Fun at Middle of the Map Fest in Kansas City the first weekend of April.

Here is some video of the incident below. The acapella magic happens at the 2:20 mark.



Fally Afani is an award-winning journalist with a career spanning more than 20 years in media. She has worked extensively in radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and more.


  • Quinton, March 15, 2012 @ 8:42 am

    That was friggin’ badass! I’ve been loving Nate Ruess ever since “Dog Problems”, and I hope he never stops!

  • Erin Pfannenstiel, March 15, 2012 @ 12:32 pm

    Kudos to them! Also, he’s one of the rare people who has a live voice that sounds just like the radio version. He’s really good!

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