Fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff has unusually high expectations for his band’s set at next month’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. “All I can think is that it’s going to be our best show of the year and probably one of our best shows of all time, and probably something we’re going to talk about forever,” Antonoff told reporters on a conference call Wednesday. “Just something that we’ll go back to and go, ‘That was an amazing show and we’ve got to match that again.’ And, unfortunately, we might only be able to do that at Bonnaroo. It’s that over the top.”
Taking place on June 7th-10th in Manchester, Tennessee, this year’s fest features headliners Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Phish. Antonoff’s high hopes stem from his three previous experiences playing Bonnaroo, dating back to a 2005 set with his band Steel Train. It was his first time ever at a music festival.
“That was probably my favorite live experience of all time,” he says. “I played that Thursday night slot and, to this day, I’ve never felt like that.” Afterwards, Antonoff spent the rest of that weekend walking around Bonnaroo with his parents and sister and taking it all in as a fan. “I’ll always think about that,” says Antonoff. “When I’m playing shows, whether I’m consciously thinking about that night in 2005 at Bonnaroo or whether it’s just the feeling of that night, I’m always trying to get there. And so to be back at the scene of the crime, seven years later, still making music in a band that I love, is personally so emotional and so special.”
Antonoff also says he’s looking forward to the band’s evening slot, which falls on the last day of the four-day event: “We get to sort of, in our little way, sum it all up and have one last hoorah before people go back to reality.”
Of course, this year will be different for Antonoff in one key respect. Fun.’s ubiquitous single “We Are Young,” from their second album Some Nights, has become one of the biggest hits of 2012 thus far, topping both the Billboard and iTunes charts. Antonoff is eager to keep building on the momentum. “We’re not an indie band,” he says. “That’s never who we’ve been. Some Nights, for us, is a massive coming out of this band that wants to be this larger-than-life rock band.”
Antonoff believes fun. were lucky in that they established their identity as a band before their recent runaway success. “We are so grateful and so much in love with the fact that we had the definition before the song became what it did, because the truth is no matter how big the song gets, or how many copies it sells, or how much it’s on the radio, it can’t define us,” says Antonoff. “Real human beings – real kids who have been coming to the shows – have already done that … [Our] fans are the ones who said a Fun. show is about screaming every word back at us. I think that all those new people will see that, and I think that our old fans take a lot of pride in explaining to all these new people what a fun. show is. And Bonnaroo, to me, is going to be a wonderful culmination of those two things.”