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