February 02, 2007

Fun 100 R.I.P.


From their early days as a youth group offshoot playing scrappy Ramones covers to their current line-up as a fierce power-pop quintet, seeing Fun 100 play has always been carefree and hilarious. That's why I'm a little surprised that their breaking up tomorrow is bumming me out so much.

I had read about Fun 100 in Bull Sheet, a zine that Steve O'Shea had found at Replay, but it was a while before I actually met any of the dudes. I first met Ryan at a Reserve 34 show on the weekend before the September 11th attacks. We quickly became buddies, and I was acquainted with Fun 100 in the "Green Card" / "Don't Care" era. As hard as Robin Price and Mark Jaholkowski tried to sabotage the sound, it was obvious that there was something amazing about the band. When we started the Hand, Fun 100 was one of the three Abbotsford bands to open for us (in an act of ego I now regret, we chose to headline!). That started our long relationship of playing shows together.

In the years that followed, we released a split CD-EP, played shows together, hung out when we weren't playing shows together (I even convinced Bruce to work at the bottle depot with me for a while), hung out at each others practices, and built a plethora of inside jokes. As Fun 100's line up changed, they evolved from a fun inside joke into an amazing band. When Marcus joined, the idea of being a synth-punk band came to full effect (dude was OBSESSED with vintagesynths.com). I remember the day when Bruce had to kick Robin out of the band. No one had the guts to do it, so there was Bruce, on his parents phone for 45 minutes, arguing with Robin about why he shouldn't be in the band. Then there were the royalties' contracts he sent them in case they ever made it big. That was an amazing day. It's only too bad they never recorded "Honey Bunny" or the untitled Black Sabbath / The Police hybrid from that era.

When Adam joined, he was really quiet and awkward, but I knew he was cool because of his Converge shirt. At his first show on bass, he never said a word to any of us. As time passed, he became one of my best friends. When the decision was made that Adam was going to play guitar and Marcus synths only, I volunteered Nathan to play bass. He couldn't really play that well, but he brought an amateurish charm that was reminiscent of their earlier shows. This was when they started covering "Dammit" all the time.

Thanks to "Computer," Fun 100 enjoyed some national celebrity status on CBC, and on some pseudo-Christian compilations they were put on. As a result, they were interviewed for CBC Radio 3, and caught the attention of Howard Redekop, who had recorded some bigger indie bands and 54-40. So they recorded "Lost In New York" and "And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Preemies" with him, and things were looking up. The crazy thing was, before Steve M joined, they were considering breaking up. I'm not sure why they decided to keep going, but I can only hope my pleading with them had something to do with it. As soon as Steve joined the band, they became a hundred times more musical, and started to blow up in Vancouver a little.

I remember Fun 100's first Vancouver show. It was at Ms. T's Cabaret with Liederhosen Lucille. The place was packed, but when Fun 100 started playing, you could barely hear them because everyone was in conversation, sitting at their tables. I remember standing up front alone with Chad Loewen and Matt Day. More of a ska fan back then, Matt resorted to the "when in doubt, skank" mantra that was pretty fantastic. Comparing that to their more recent shows that have been packed with jubilant youngsters wanting to party, it's obvious they've come a long way.

To list all my favourite Fun 100 memories would take hours, so I have to cut it short. The bottom line is, for the time Fun 100 was a band, I was lucky to have all my favourite dudes in one place whenever they'd play. It's a bummer to think that, after tomorrow, that might not be the same case ever again. But there is hope. Ryan has a new punk band that's destined for greatness. Bruce is drumming in that band, along with basically every other bigger band to ever come out of Vancouver. Steve is playing his bass like a guitar in Ghost House, along with the hundreds of side-projects he's involved with. Adam just needs to be in the same room as a guitar, and unbelievable riffs start coming out. And Marcus is a break-dancing biologist, so there is no doubt that he will do great things.

Nonetheless, tomorrow is a big deal because it's the last show of a band who actually have a history. Not to sound like a grumpy historian, but bands today don't need to work very hard for attention. One blog mention can have people flocking to their shows, then they break up and are instantly forgotten. Fun 100 has been the same, unpretentious band for 7 years. The worst part is, they have been mostly unappreciated outside our niche for most of the time. And the fact that it's over means I've lost my favourite band ever.

Fun 100 plays their last show tomorrow at the Mount Pleasant Community Center.

6 comments:

Stu said...

Haha, I can see Matt Day skanking and it's a wonderful thing.

Those guys will be missed hardcore.

Anonymous said...

I won't say too much here because Josiah Hughes has already written an eloquent eulogy to one of Abbotsford's few transcendent bands. I will say this just for myself though; Very rarely in my experience has a band lived up to their moniker so thoroughly. Fun 100 may not technically have been the greatest artists or musicians (although the members were no slouches), but they were FUN. Capital letters FUN. Purely unpretentious joy was what they delivered each and every time I saw them live. (and that was a hell of a lot over the years) With many bands that you choose to see live more than once, or even more than ten times, the band will inevitably have an off night. The magic will just not be there some nights, maybe the group is tired, maybe the members are upset with one another, perhaps there are just too many sound/equipment problems during a set. All of these things happened to Fun 100 on show night, but none of these factors ever deterred them from delivering a fantastic live show. Not once in my experience, and I think this, maybe more than any other trait is what made Fun 100 "better" than probably 99% of Vancouver and Lower Mainland acts. And when I say "a fantastic live show" I don't necessarily mean that they sounded perfect, that they made no errors, or even that the venue had good acoustics, or that none of their equipment failed. I mean that they were special, plain and simple. They had something that probably only one in five thousand bands has... It.

Farewell Fun 100, and good luck to the members and their future endeavors. I'll always remember the good times, the great times, the FUN times...There were at least 100 of them. - Big D -

fan club said...

wow...

i have nothing to say except my heart felt grieved when i read that bio.

my favourite memories were probably playing in hope with them!

love

jonny

Matt Day said...

photos here

Andrea Wong said...

I only saw Fun 100 once, but I won't forget it. Sigh sigh sigh.

t-t-tracey said...

ive always loved how steve is ducking in that picture