August 23, 2006

The Format rocks my socks off

I saw The Format last night in Denver as a birthday present from my sis, and what a present it was. Even though Kristy and I questioned that we somehow exceeded an unspoken age limit among the other patrons (which seemed to be about 15? 16?), I was absolutely blown away by these guys and am still smiling the next day.

Background: I have both of The Format’s full-length albums (Interventions + Lullabies and Dog Problems), as well as a collection of other tracks. I like them very much, I sing along, etc. etc. HOWEVER, as good as their CDs are, they truly pale in comparison to seeing them live, which makes everything just click together into one of the best concerts I have seen in a while.

Now, I know that I am an enthusiastic gal, especially when it comes to music that I like. I’ll give you that. And while I certainly stand behind all of the musical recommendations that I have made thus far on this site, this next one comes with a disclaimer that I REALLY MEAN IT. Like, 200% more than other times I have said “Hey, this band is really good.” I wish I had stronger words to express my strong emotion here. So listen:

The Format is essentially frontman Nate Ruess & multi-instrumentalist Sam Means, along with a host of musician friends when they tour. Nate is a fireball of charisma on-stage, with swagger and presence and a magnetism that reminded me of a consummate rockstar like Steven Tyler, oddly enough. He really connects with the crowd and got everyone singing along, jumping & clapping. It is nice to see that confidence and connection in an age of shoegazers and mumblers (nothin’ wrong with that in its place, but I’m just saying . . .)

Nate has an unusual voice, that’s undeniable. I wasn’t sure where to file it in my mental catalogue until I saw them live, and then it all makes sense and I want to hear him sing all day long. It’s a powerful instrument he’s got there in his pipes.

Backing Nate were no fewer than EIGHT musicians of various stripes: guitar, bass, vocals and drums, sure, but also shakers and keyboards and trombones. Come on. Sheer pop goodness. Sometimes it sounds like a circus, and sometimes they channel Queen a bit, but there is no denying the well-crafted nature of their songs, the creative lyricism, and the downright danceability and quality rock ‘n’ roll.

Although they are in completely different veins, my sister remarked that the vibe at the show was like fellow Arizonans Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers in concert, if you’ve heard me rave about them. It was the same electric sensation throughout the crowd that uplifts and unites and (at the risk of sounding like a cornball) reaffirms your faith in the power of a fantastic live music experience.

I agree with blog buddy Nathaniel when he says, “I’ve seen a lot of shows, and The Format rank up there with the very best of them.” Very very best indeed.

Here are your remaining chances to see them live on this tour. If you’ve ever said to yourself, “Hey, Heather has made some decent musical recommendations,” then TRUST ME ON THIS, lay down the twelve kopecks or whatever and GO SEE THEM. You absolutely will not be disappointed:

Aug 23 – Salt Lake City, UT – In The Venue
Aug 25 - Seattle, WA – Neumo’s
Aug 26 – Portland, OR – Loveland
Aug 27 – Orangevale, CA – Boardwalk
Aug 28 – San Francisco, CA – Slim’s
Aug 29 – Anaheim, CA – House of Blues
Aug 31 – Hollywood, CA – Avalon
Sep 1 – San Diego, CA – Soma
Sep 2 – Las Vegas, NV – House of Blues/Courtyard
Sep 22 – Birmingham – Carling Academy
Sep 23 – Manchester – Apollo
Sep 24 – Leeds – Leeds University Union
Sep 26 – Cambridge – Corn Exchange
Sep 27 – Southampton – Southampton Guildhall
Sep 29 – London – Carling Academy Brixton

(Note: Does anyone know where I can find a good quality live/electric set from The Format? Here! Right here! Highly recommended: 2006 Western Tread Showcase set)

Tune Out (Interventions + Lullabies)
One of the first few songs, and everyone (including me) sang along at the top of their lungs when the chorus broke. It was a great moment.

She Doesn’t Get It (off the new A+ album, Dog Problems)
Introduced as being a song about casual sex and Duran Duran.

Give It Up (Interventions + Lullabies)
They nailed this one last night. This is the first song I heard by The Format, and still one of my favorites.

The First Single (from the EP)
The final song, anthemic and sweaty and once again, everyone sang along. (Who names their first single “The First Single”? These guys do.)

TWO BONUS COVERS, just because:
The Lottery Song (Harry Nilsson cover, since some say they share a vibe)

For You (Bruce Springsteen cover from the Light of Day tribute CD)

For the quantity of Format videos on YouTube, the good quality ones are quite hard to find.

“Tie The Rope” (officially shot video):

If you want to get a sense of The Format from where I was standing last night (in the roiling, churning, 15-year-old crowd), check out this girl’s video clips from the Hartford, CT show. I wanted to embed the one of She Doesn’t Get It,” but darn YouTube won’t let me. It demonstrates Nate’s patented microphone toss, the clapping and some of the fantastic crowd chemistry.

This one is of a poorer quality, but totally watchable, and I am including it because you can get a sense of how well the crowd knows the songs and sings along:
Tune Out video (7/14/06)

And because I forgot my camera, the lovely pictures above come from Taylor’s post.

I had a strong sense watching these guys that they definitely have “IT” — that star quality and superb music that could take them all the way to the top. Why are they not all over the radio and on everybody’s iPod? I have a feeling that they will be soon.

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  • Heather, I loved your post on The Format! They’ve been one of my favorite bands for the last couple of years. I just did a post on them myself over at my own blog. I’ve seen them live a few times and definitely understand what you mean about exceeded the age limit of 15.

    If you’re looking for good live sets, check out There’s a LOT of audio and video of The Format there. Some of it’s good, some of it’s not.

    I love your blog. Keep up the great work!

    Andy — August 23, 2006 @ 4:00 pm

  • Yes! Finally! Some love for one of my favorite bands.

    brianna — August 23, 2006 @ 6:49 pm

  • Dog Problems is one of my favourite songs of the year.

    Salvatore — August 23, 2006 @ 8:10 pm

  • i wish you’d told me how good they were live a few weeks ago. they were in georgia. but i think it might have been the same night as one of the ryan adams shows, and well… c’mon. as far as live stuff goes…i think they have some acoustic songs for sale on itunes. but other than that, i dunno…

    a — August 23, 2006 @ 9:30 pm

  • Hey Heather,
    I couldn’t agree more in your description of the audience that goes to see The Format. I saw them in StL just over two years ago and could have easily been in the top 5% of old people at the show. I was 26 then. Indeed, these guys rock, and I wish I could have seen them when they came through last week.

    bryce — August 24, 2006 @ 11:04 am

  • Thanks for the post. I’ve been digging the song in your summer mix ‘the Compromise’ and now am getting into their albums.

    Stephen K. — August 24, 2006 @ 12:41 pm

  • The Format . . . so strange. With Dog Problems, this incredible band has leaped forward to transcend the emo-pop of its earlier years. And while the emo sound still rests at the surface, why do so many people have hard time appreciating the creative nuances of this band? It’s interesting that so many adolescents are into a band with such great musicianship and adult themes, because at the same time, I am pleased they are into a band with said qualities rather than some of the alternatives. My favorites bands have always been the ones who evolve with each album, as The Format seem on a quest to do. I have yet to see them live, but I am already impressed that they use a full band to put on a better show, when it would be more economical to use a smaller band and still sell the same number of tickets. In June, when Dog Problems was pretty much the only record I listened to, I enthusiastically passed it on to my “capable-of-admitting-it’s-good-even-if-it’s-pop” friends, and was left hanging. They’re ears and minds are apparently not as open as yours, good people. Lucky enough, our paths have crossed.

    RocksaidSal — August 24, 2006 @ 1:28 pm

  • Your post on The Format was so good that I ran over to emusic, downloaded what they had there, and then dragged a friend to their show in LA. The show was great – such good energy and great live music. Who knew I could like a concert so much from a band I’d never even heard of a week ago?!

    Thanks for the great blog!

    Sam — September 1, 2006 @ 1:23 am

  • Sam! Thank you so much for writing that comment. Knowing that even one person got to see their awesome live show because of my write-up makes me happy! I am so glad to be able to turn you on to great music.

    heather — September 1, 2006 @ 9:25 am

  • I feel so stupid that I didn’t know that “The Lottery Song” was a Harry Nilsson song. Anyway, I love your blog and this entry, I just posted one similar today… confessing my undying love for The Format. I am 27 and am always the oldest person at their shows. What is up with that?? They weren’t even selling beer!

    Hi-Fi Heart — June 26, 2007 @ 3:25 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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