Have you heard “She Doesn’t Get It,” the wry, wonderful 2006 song by short-lived (but fiercely beloved) Arizona indie-rock band The Format? For years, I would sing along to its opening line “All the girl post the same four pictures / All the boys have the same girls’ hair” and smile so self-assuredly thinking about how it was so true in the age of Myspace and early Facebook. Then, a year or two ago, someone blew my mind: It’s actually “All the girls pose the same for pictures,” which is somehow an even more era-defining line than what my brain heard. Good song.
The singer who delivered that line, by the way, was Nate Ruess — perhaps best known as one-third of Fun., the also short-lived but highly successful pop supergroup he sang in with Jack Antonoff and Andrew Dost. Before “We Are Young” seemingly conquered the world, Ruess found the right complement in his Format partner Sam Means, whose expertly ornate pop craftsmanship paired perfectly with Ruess’s soaring emotionality. That combination helped their two albums — Interventions + Lullabies and Dog Problems — achieve such a dedicated following. It’s why the The Format’s 12 years on hiatus have been such a bummer. Until today.
Yes, The Format are back. They technically returned Monday night (February 3) in Phoenix for a surprise acoustic performance that fan-captured footage reveals also doubled as a cathartic sing-along. If you live in New York City, Chicago, or Phoenix, you’ll be able to join them this year on a special run of reunion shows kicking off in March.
The band hits Bowery Ballroom in New York on March 20 and 21 before heading to Chicago’s Lincoln Hall on March 27 and 28. They’ll find a nice homecoming at The Van Buren theater in Phoenix on April 3. Tickets for all go on sale on Friday, February 7 at noon venue local time. But before that, a Wednesday pre-sale (with the code: FORMAT) will be up at The Format’s official merch site at noon local time.
But if you can’t wait that long, Nate and Sam have got you covered — Live at the Mayan Theatre is available to stream right now. Though it’s an old show recorded in 2007 and first released on DVD way back then, it’s officially out now via streaming platforms and on vinyl, kicking off the reunion by taking a moment to celebrate their highest peak.
“About a year ago, I was driving and I was listening on random, and Interventions came on,” Ruess told the crowd at the show last night in Arizona, per AZ Central. “And I was listening to it and I was like, ‘I should probably skip this.’ And I listened and I thought, ‘Holy [expletive], this kicks ass. This is totally rad.” Once he texted Means about how good the first album is, he got a simple reply: “I know.”
Live at the Mayan Theatre is a great show. They play “She Doesn’t Get It,” a crown jewel from Dog Problems, four songs in. Watch that performance above and just try to tell me you don’t hear that opening line the way I (mis)heard it for over a decade.