Last Night: Hellogoodbye, Fun, Limbeck at Chain Reaction

Last Night: Hellogoodbye, Fun, Limbeck at Chain Reaction, Anaheim; August 19, 2009.

Better Than: Waiting for the next Hellogoodbye album to come out (it's been three years this month since Drive-Thru released Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!).

Great Debate: Over the relative quality of District 9. Fun were incredibly turned off, saying that it was too heavy-handed and steeped in allegory. Hellogoodbye repeatedly proclaimed the sci-fi film's awesomeness and threatened to kick Fun off the tour for their dissenting opinion. Jokingly, of course. (Right?)

As pointed out in a Spencer Kornhaber blog post yesterday, Wednesday night's show at Chain Reaction was the return of two veteran Orange County bands–Hellogoodbye and Limbeck–to a venue they've played many times before. But for me, it was all about the middle act, Fun (officially spelled “fun.” by the band, but we'll just stick with “Fun” for clarity's sake).

The lead singer of Fun is Nate Ruess, who, along with former musical partner Sam Means, used to be in an especially great band based in Phoenix called the Format. I saw them numerous times while living in Arizona, including what I'm pretty sure was their last show ever; six or so acoustic songs opening up for Source Victoria's CD release show at Last Exit in Tempe. Their fanbase was always mostly teenage girls, but that didn't stop me. (I seem to like a lot of music teenage girls like, for whatever reason. Probably best not to think about it too much.)

I got a chance to hear Fun's debut album, Aim and Ignite, a couple weeks back, and it's pretty much everything I could have possibly wanted from the release: following up on the vast promise of Dog Problems (the excellent now-final Format album) while expanding the familiar sound.

Hearing the new songs live was pretty much exactly what I could have wanted, too. Ruess–who I once heard singing Beatles tunes at a tiny Tempe bar called the Yucca Tap Room–sounded as good as ever, but re-energized from his new surroundings (he moved from Phoenix to New York City) and new musical mates (including Andrew Dost from Anthallo and Jack Antonoff from Steel Train). “At Least I'm Not as Sad (As I Used To Be)” is so joyfully chaotic on record, that it practically demands to be heard live–and Fun delivered, bringing a powerful, layered performance that left the crowd singing along. Pretty impressive given that the album doesn't come out until Tuesday.

While I'm being all Arizona nostalgic, Limbeck and Hellogoodbye both played in the Phoenix are a lot back in the day. Neither have released much lately, but the fact that the show sold out way in advance suggests that their local fans will be ready for more whenever that might happen.

Hellogoodbye's on-stage banter probably would annoy some people, what with the jokes about peeing and pooping and balls. But I happen to love jokes about peeing and pooping and balls, so I was pretty much totally on board. Also, I didn't know that Ryan Daly, from Long Beach's stellar Parade of Lights, was in Hellogoodbye. But he totally is. Sup, Ryan.

Also, Hellogoodbye lead singer Forrest Kline crowdsurfed during set-closer “Here In Your Arms,” along with a couple of little kids. That was pretty neat. As Spencer pointed out in his blog last night, OC Weekly hasn't written much about Hellogoodbye, which is odd given the success they've had. I like to think that if I were around when Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs! was released, things would have been different. But given the logic of chaos theory outlined in movies like The Butterfly Effect, who knows what effect that slight change of things might have? We could all have pig noses now or something. Better not to pull on that thread.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: I think this entire review has been personal bias.

Random Detail: Following their Chain Reaction set, Limbeck played a late gig at the nearby Doll Hut in Anaheim.

By the Way: Some jerkward reviewed Aim and Ignite for OC Weekly sister paper Phoenix New Times.

Fun setlist:
“Benson Hedges”
“I Wanna Be the One”
“All the Pretty Girls”
“Walking the Dog”
“The Gambler”
“At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used to Be)”
“Take Your Time (Coming Home)”

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