Something I feel like my generation largely takes for granted is how easy it is to learn about your favorite bands. Whereas our parents were stuck scrounging for articles in a few limited publications and picking through cover notes, with a simple Google search in the 21st century you can harvest an almost overwhelming amount of information. With the internet we have access to music blogs and Wikipedia pages, unreleased b-sides and covers, and footage of shows we couldn’t attend ourselves.
One byproduct of this, and particularly as cellphones have become increasing ubiquitous, is that you can watch a band grow up online. As I was picking through YouTube videos of the Format, I stumbled across a performance at Sacramento State University from 2004. For those of you who didn’t know the Format, you likely know Fun (Nate Ruess’ subsequent band) and their 20-something fist-pumping anthem ‘We are Young’. Now honestly Fun doesn’t do very much for me, but it is wild to see this band playing for such a meager crowd when its offshoot can sell out three nights of the Wiltmore in LA with its capacity of 1,850.
The song of the week is one of the tracks from the band’s ‘meager crowd’ era. The album it is off of, ‘Interventions and Lullabies’ would eventually go on to substantial popularity on the indie music scene, so in all reality this ‘era’ didn’t last long. ‘The First Single’ is the lead off track of the album and really gives a pretty good sense of the albums musical direction: acoustic guitars, clear and relaxed vocals, and a healthy dose of hand clapping.
While some people will lament the Format breaking up and Fun being more pop than indie-rock, as long as a band or musician is playing the music they love, I’m happy to see them enjoy success. Anyone who has played a half-empty bar or basement, even the musical purists, would be lying if they claimed they had never daydreamed about hearing themselves on the radio. It’s clips like this that give the rest of us hope.