On the Road with the Format: ‘Saving Private Ryan’

When we left the Format’s Nate Ruess, he was desperately seeking Guster’s Ryan Miller, who’d vanished at a frat party. Now we present the stunning conclusion of the Format’s version of Saving Private Ryan.

“Beer Pong!”

Should have known. There in front of us was not only a scene out of “beer fest,” but in the middle of it all, the life of the party, our fallen comrade, Ryan. The kids were surrounding him, loving it, celebrating, chanting — m’man could do no wrong in the beer pong. He looked at us, and then looked away. Clearly, he was a God. Clearly he had no idea, nor did he need to care that we were searching this whole damn FIJI party for him. I decided that it would be best for me to learn from such a classy individual, so I made my way over to a beer pong table being occupied by our guitarist Mike and our sound guy Casey. But right before I could reach them I felt a tap on my shoulder.

“Nate Man,” said a buffed out frat dude with red hair and a green shirt.

“Yes?” I replied.

“Dude, I love your music so much…”

“Thanks” I say (hoping to cut him off and end it at that).

“Killer show tonight bro…”

“Thanks” I said again, hoping that was it, that I could walk away. Little did I know that what he was about to say would turn my whole world upside down.

“I lost my virginity to your song ‘Give It Up’.”

What? I was shocked. Suddenly I felt very, very old. He said he’d lost it while listening to the song in high school. It felt like just yesterday we had written that song while he was in middle school. Now he is in college. Now I am old. And furthermore, who would want to lose their v-card to such a crappy song? In hindsight, I always wished that I had lost mine while something like “These Arms of Mine” by Otis Redding, was playing in the background. If I had never heard me, and was about to “git it on” for the first time ever, and the song he mentioned came on, I would have said “What am I doing here? I think I can wait it out. Peace.”

But no, homeboy was very, very proud to inform me that I was there, at least in vocal spirit, while he had lost his virginity to a song, coincidentally titled, “Give It Up”. I had no choice but to ask Bruce (that’s what we will call him, for I don’t remember his real name) to be my partner and be there with me for my first time. At beer pong.

I thought for sure that Bruce and I, with what we now knew about each other, would crush anyone who stood in our way. I was sobering up, Bruce was a beast of a man who looked like he could take out every frat guy there in beer pong. Unfortunately I had yet to meet one of our opponents, Bruce’s buddy (let’s call him Ripper). Ripper was two times the size of Bruce! He was the most ‘roided out dude I have ever seen, and to make matters even worse, his partner was to be our very manly merch guy, Toco.

Great, just when I’m starting to sober up, I’m now committed to drinking a bunch of cheap beer out of some very unsanitary cups that have been keeping ping-pong balls afloat all night. I looked over at Bruce, he explained how beer pong works, and I thought to myself “this can’t be too hard, Bruce seems pretty confident, its not like we’re lifting kegs and throwing them over walls, we’re just throwing ping-pong balls into paper cups.

The battle begins. Toco’s first throw goes into one of our cups. I have to drink it. Ah, this is the worst beer I’ve ever had. Ripper throws. Ah this chug is even worse than the first. After a few cups have been knocked off it’s now our turn. I look to Bruce thinking he is going to throw with both grace and might, like a Norse God. No such luck. I think he hit Toco in the eye. For my turn, I give it all I have. Shit, I’m a few feet off. Their turn again.

Now I’m drunk again. Great. They’ve got one cup left and all we’ve hit is one of their cups (by the way, if I remember clearly, which I don’t, it was me who hit the one cup). I have accepted the fact that I may never be as cool as Ryan from Guster. But I’m drunk, so who cares. Ripper takes one last throw and the game is over. I don’t even look at Bruce. Figures that such a loser would lose his virginity to one of our songs. I just walk away. Uh Oh! Here comes another buff guy, what could he possibly say…

“Dudebro, killer show tonight!”

“Thanks” (can I get out of here already, I’ve been humiliated enough, I just want to go to sleep).

“I lift weights to your CD every day.”

That’s it. No more. The kid was nice, (apparently he had told Muzz this earlier and Muzz had gotten the whole thing on film) but I was defeated. I wasn’t going to let him talk me into losing another beer pong match just because he does manly shit while listening to my music. I was now drunk depressed, so I made my way upstairs and out the door, headed for the bus.

Thinking to myself, “You’ll never do this again. You’re not a writer. You’re a musician. Wait, you’re not a musician, you’re the guy responsible for the soundtrack to all things manly.”

By the time I found the bus, I sobered up a bit and listened to everyone else’s stories. Our sound guy, Casey had won so much in beer pong that as he was leaving he told them “I AM FIJI, I OWN FIJI!!!!!!!” They didn’t like that very much. His whole story ended with “Ok, ok! I’m not Fiji! I don’t even know who Fiji is!” It really was a brilliant story. But I was still a little too defeated to laugh. I went to bed.

The next morning I had my wits about me and realized that while it wasn’t typically me to do such a thing, it was worth the story I got out of it. I ended up waiting the whole week for more exciting things to happen. Nothing ended up happening, nor did I have the same excitement I previously felt the night of FIJI. After a long boring week of the regular nothingness of tour, I realized that while FIJI probably pales in comparison to your typical “biggest frat party, ever” at major colleges like ASU or Michigan State, to me and all the kids (and old band people) that were in that house that rainy night in random town Indiana, FIJI will always hold a special party in all of our hearts.

(No, it won’t)

–Nate

>> More entries from the Format

On the Web:
theformat.com
Campus Consciousness Tour website

Now Watch This: The Format – “She Doesn’t Get It”

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