'We feel it's most responsible': Why the Format canceled 2022 reunion concerts

·6 min read

The Format reunion tour has been canceled after COVID-19 forced the duo to reschedule sold-out shows in New York City, Chicago and Phoenix several times, citing "continued uncertainty."

They were most recently scheduled to play the Van Buren in downtown Phoenix April 1-3 with Phantom Planet.

Nate Ruess and Sam Means shared the news on social media, tweeting, "For the past two years we have really been looking forward to playing these reunion shows. We appreciate your understanding. We are sorry for all the back and forth. Until next time..."

In a longer “message from Sam & Nate,” the duo went into more detail.

“For the past two years, we have really been looking forward to playing these reunion shows,” they wrote. “This new year begins with some continued uncertainty, and as a band and crew with families, as well as traveling fans that we care about, we feel it’s most responsible to cancel the currently scheduled shows and refund your tickets.”

They wrote it isn’t fair to keep rescheduling dates and that they would prefer to just revisit the idea “when things are more certain.”

They also hinted that it may not be at the Van Buren.

“Perhaps once we get it properly sorted, we can entertain the idea of some larger venues so that everyone who wants to will get a better chance to see us” they wrote.

How to get a refund if you purchased tickets

Refunds will be available at point of purchase.

If you purchased through the venue of the Lyte fan exchange, your card will be automatically refunded. Contact the venue or Lyte for further instructions if the card you used is no longer active.

If you purchased tickets through the Format Store at Hello Merch, you should receive an email with refund instructions through the email address used at checkout.

Those who purchased tickets through the resale market will need to contact those points of purchase directly.

The story behind the Format reunion

The Van Buren dates, originally set for March 2020, were rescheduled three times.

Tickets to all three concerts sold out in less than an hour.

Those original dates were announced in February 2020, a day after the Format surprised fans in Phoenix with a full reunion concert at a viewing party for "Live at the Mayan," a concert film captured in 2007.

The Format, composed primarily of grade school friends Nate Ruess and Sam Means, were signed to a national label on the strength of radio play in Phoenix of their first single, titled "The First Single."
The Format, composed primarily of grade school friends Nate Ruess and Sam Means, were signed to a national label on the strength of radio play in Phoenix of their first single, titled "The First Single."

That unplugged show at Means' Hello Merch warehouse marked the end of a 12-year hiatus.

Means told The Republic at the time that he and Ruess did their best to do a low-key rollout. They never even screened their movie at the viewing party.

"We put up a little, like, red velvet cloth to try to cover the stage," Means recalled with a laugh.

"I was like, 'There's no way that people are not gonna figure this out.' And somehow they didn't. There were still people in the crowd who were like, 'Oh, we thought we were just gonna watch this on this little tiny TV that you had in front of the curtain.' Somehow, we pulled it off, I guess."

They gave their first performance as the Format since announcing their hiatus in 2008 at Hello Merch, Means' downtown Phoenix music merchandising warehouse, for a reason.

"We just figured, anybody that would be willing to go watch a movie that's been out for 12 years on a Monday night in, like, a seedy part of downtown Phoenix would probably be the most die-hard fans that we'd want to be playing for,” Means explained.

Ruess explained onstage at that performance that the reunion talk grew out of reconsidering his feeling for their debut album, 2003's "Interventions + Lullabies," which he told the crowd he and Means "absolutely despised" at the time.

"We just both coincidentally listened to 'Interventions' for whatever reasons," Means recalled.

"We didn't really love that record that much for a while. I'm not really sure why. Probably just because of the record label stuff that was affiliated with it. And looking back and listening back on it after all those years, we just had a newfound love for it, I guess."

How the Format became one of the Valley's biggest bands

Means and Ruess are childhood friends who formed the Format, which became one of the Valley's most successful bands in recent memory, in 2001.

They made their first full-band appearance in 2002 at Nita's Hideaway. That same night, the Format started talking to Elektra Records. Although they didn't sign that night, as Means told The Arizona Republic, "It was kind of like that. It didn't happen that quickly. It wasn't on-the-spot, after the show was over ... But somebody who ultimately ended up signing us was at that show."

The Format had come to Elektra's attention through thescout.net, a now-defunct website the industry used to discover new talent. The site had featured "The First Single," a song the Format recorded at Mesa's Flying Blanket Recording with producer Bob Hoag.

By that point, the song was a regional hit, thanks to exposure on KEDJ-FM (103.9 FM), and they had released a five-song EP, recorded with Hoag, called "EP."

John Kirkpatrick, Elektra's West Coast vice president of A&R, liked what he saw at Nita's Hideaway enough to have the Format play a showcase in Los Angeles for Sylvia Rhone, the label's CEO.

A few months later, they were signed.

But the deal with Elektra went nowhere. Their major-label debut, "Interventions + Lullabies," was released in October 2003, and four months later, Elektra was absorbed into Atlantic in a merger.

The Format self-released a second album, an adventurous classic-rock-influenced indie-pop change-up called "Dog Problems," in 2006.

"That was taking it to the other extreme," Ruess told The Republic. "And I think that was because Sam and I both felt so dejected from what happened with 'Interventions + Lullabies.' We felt we'd done a lot of compromising creatively for that album, in certain ways, that the punk-rock versions of us probably never would have done."

So they reverted to their punk-rock versions of themselves. But as Ruess told the Republic, "We were listening to a lot of Beatles at the time. And Harry Nilsson."

They announced that they were going on hiatus on Feb. 4, 2008. And by the time the year was over, Ruess had moved to Brooklyn and recruited Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff to form the band fun., who broke through in a way the Format never had, thanks to the 10-times-platinum single "We Are Young."

That single won Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards, where fun. won Best New Artist before going on hiatus in 2015.

Reach the reporter at ed.masley@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-4495. Follow him on Twitter @EdMasley.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: The Format's 2022 reunion tour is canceled due to COVID-19

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting