It has been a long time coming, one of these longer narrative posts. Tonight was a night that was both magical and emotional. My ex-fiance and I bonded over our love of The Format. He had a lyric written on a folder, I hummed “The First Single” so many times that I am sure people, to this day, correlate that song and myself. We developed a mutual passion over going to concerts and seeing them live, because in all honesty, The Format was one of the best live bands ever. Nate Ruess, singer and lyricist, had an odd presence on stage and Sam Means brought the business with alternative rock that meshed a variety of instrumentation and catchy hooks. The two of them were auditory gold that would leave me humming with a certain sense of pride and pleasure. The memories evoked from listening to my favorite tracks are a wonderful combination of sadness and happiness.
I was devastated when I heard that The Format went on permanent hiatus. It was the first time that a band breaking up had given me such a powerful and emotional reaction. Jonathan, my ex, had experienced it when his favorite band Ozma disbanded years ago, but to me, this was new and untouched territory. I remember reading that they had ceased working on a new album and were “taking a break.” The Format was kaput. And tears leaked from my eyes for all the shows we went to and for all the shows we wouldn’t.
Soon word swirled that there was a new venture for Nate Ruess. Sam Means had used his talent and was a guest musician on many albums, but there was this anticipation building about what Nate would do, where would he end up? Anxious, Jonathan and I swarmed websites searching for news as a buzz began to build about a possible new project. And that is how we learned about fun.
Tonight was my third time seeing fun. since they formed. I have seen them along Taking Back Sunday and Paramore, and tonight they opened for Panic At The Disco. It was my first time, though, seeing fun. without Jonathan. There was a moment between openers Funeral Party tearing down their gear and fun. setting up where I looked down and saw a rug being brought out. I laughed and immediately thought about when Jonathan and I (along with our friends Joe and Jacob) saw The Format in Ames, Iowa, in this teeny-tiny club on the Iowa State campus. It was the first time I saw the flower rug.
Nate performs barefoot. I am not sure there has ever been a situation where I saw him with shoes on while on stage. And I saw fun. play last May, outside, in fifty some degree weather. When he was with The Format, he would have a rug on stage with him. It was this massive flower rug that had a shag like appearance. Something you could see in the bedroom of a seventeen year old girl in the year 1973. It looked dingy and probably smelled worse, considering night after night Nate would dance around, sweating and barefoot. Tonight, though, there was no flower rug. There hasn’t been one since the demise of The Format. But they brought out a rug to put the drum set on and my heart did a pitter-patter of elation and anxiety. I picked up my phone and texted Jonathan: “They have a rug.” Moments passed until I added, “I am here, alone. I hope you know you are here in spirit. P.S. he’s barefoot.” And Jonathan replied, “I would expect nothing less.” I am sure he was responding to the barefoot comment, but there is a part of me that hopes he was acknowledging this sanctity around the band. Around Nate Ruess.
When I arrived earlier in the evening, I was taken back to the year 2002, when I was a sixteen year old know-it-all, waiting in line to see the Drive-Thru Records tour. Senses Fail, Steel Train, Homegrown, and The Starting Line were memorable moments from way back. But I was also taken back because of the emotional side. At that 2002 concert, I saw an ex-boyfriend of mine. It was an emotional punch to the gut, and I remember ending the evening sitting out in the hallway staring at Dave Miller (formerly of Senses Fail) hitting on girls, and crying. I did not want to cry tonight. I wanted to look at the evening as a stepping stone towards something new, something stronger.
Coming soon: a review of Funeral Party’s set and fun.’s set.