The Format live @ Neumos

Walking into Neumos on Friday night to see the Format, I quickly asked myself the obvious question, "How did these guys get dropped?" Not because of the music they write, simply because the all-ages show was littered with fans freaking out to hear them play songs from the first record.

I, on the other hand, am not a fan of the early record. The instrumentation and more mature song writing on Dog Problems is much more my style. Couple that with the fact that an all ages show at Neumos means you can only drink on the top floor, tucked around a corner under the cross-examination lights and I was wondering if this show was going to be worth it.

The Format is a two-piece band, but tonight they were joined with five or six of their close friends to thicken up the sound. It became a tale of two bands. When they played anything off of their first record, Interventions and Lullabies, the younger crowd exploded into sing-alongs and handclaps without being asked. It’s the most crowd participation I’ve seen at a show in years.

In a delicious taste of irony, as the band played the new material, they actually were making fun of a lot of the people who were going bananas over the older work. Nate’s song writing is maturing, and he wants the fan base to as well. They got labeled as an emo band early on, and now they want nothing to do with it. A lot of the emoish, internet fans nodding along to songs like She Doesn’t Get It and Dog Problems, probably miss the subtle (or not so subtle) jabs about myspace.

I also realized that as Nate belted out Time bomb and Dog Problems, and every person sang a long, it would have to suck to be the muse of a bad break up record. Hearing close to 400 people agreeing with Nate that “Becca” was an unfaithful girlfriend, not worth his time or pain, is something I’m sure she’s not going to enjoy. I can’t imagine the feeling of turning on the radio and hearing my ex singing a popular song about me being a bit of a who-are, but I would imagine it would be similar to hearing a girl say, "no, it's an average size."

The band puts on a hell of a show. Despite being into only about 50% of the material, I was impressed that Nate puts energy into every note he sings, and the band genuinely seems thrilled to still be able to tour and play songs they love. Whether it was conducting a sing-along during The Actual, or the slight smile of self-satisfaction that graced Nate’s lips as he sang the high-energy The Compromise and knew that by making the music they wanted, the band has finally found a home. A home that is much more comfortable and a lot more secure.

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