It’s becoming increasingly difficult for Fun. to keep track of the highlights these days, what with their six Grammy nominations and sold-out tour and all… but it’s safe to say the past week of their lives will be one they remember for a long time.
After all, it’s not every day you get to serve as the opening act for the Leader of the Free World, which is exactly what Fun. did at Monday’s (January 21) Inaugural Ball, where they took the stage directly before President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle thrilled attendees by slow-dancing to Jennifer Hudson’s version of “Let’s Stay Together.”
It was the kickoff of a very eventful week for the band, who wedged the show in-between rehearsals for their tour (which also started this week). And as it all comes to a close, MTV News spoke with Fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff, to get his take on the past seven days… and a gig that they’ll never forget.
“The day was crazy; we were in Minneapolis, in Paisley Park, rehearsing for the tour, so we literally had a 3 a.m. lobby call to get to D.C., we took off and landed before the sun even came up,” he laughed. “We went right to the hotel, and from that point on it was this constant stream of Secret Service taking us to different places. It’s such an intense process; you go somewhere, and you have to stay in a room, and then we had sound check which was really intense because it had to happen at this particular time; it was like being at Bonnaroo or Coachella, where everything is on a grid, except times infinity, because it’s the Secret Service running it, and not a bunch of festival people.”
After doing sound-check, Fun. were basically sequestered in a dressing room at the Washington D.C. Convention Center, waiting for their time on stage, and the arrival of the president. And when that arrival actually happened, it turns out they nearly finished with their set… which means that they had a front-row seat to history.
“We get word he’s coming in, we get rushed off to the side of the stage, and there’s Secret Service everywhere. And he came out, [Obama] danced while Jennifer Hudson sang, we were like 100 feet away and it was insane to witness that,” Antonoff said. “And then we get ushered into a small pipe-and-drape room, and it was us, John Legend, Brad Paisley and Stevie Wonder, all in this bizarre little room. And we’re all kind of waiting there, with this vibe that I’ve never experienced before, which is waiting for the president to walk in, which is kind of like when you’re going on a date, and you’re waiting for your date to show up, only once again times infinity.
“And he walks in, and it was just so surreal; he looks like he looks on TV,” he continued. “And all I remember is him walking into the room and just going ‘Stevie! Stevie! What’s up Stevie!’ And then we met him, he said hi to him and the first lady, we took a picture and then we walked out, and it was just like ‘Well, that just happened.’”
Antonoff said meeting the president happened so quickly that his original plan — thanking Obama for his support of LGBTQ rights — went out the window (“All I could say was ‘It’s an honour to meet you,’” he sighed). But still, it’s a moment that he’ll remember for the rest of his life. And, almost a week later, it’s still all he and his bandmates can talk about.
“The idea of being nominated for Grammys or selling out big shows or having platinum albums or whatever, those are impossibly far off dreams, but they’re still in the arena of dreams that exist when you have a band,” he said. “Playing at the Inaugural Ball, that’s not something most artists get to do, it’s a crazy, once-in-a-lifetime experience. And I think that might have been the first experience that we’ve had together where it’s like ‘Well, this wasn’t even on the list of dreams we had.’”
What did you think of Fun.’s Inaugural Ball performance? Let us know in the comments below.
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