On the Road with the Format: Nate Says Farewell

Remember that really shitty song, “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday?” I think it was by Boyz II Men. Quite the popular junior high dance song it was. I vaguely remember standing in the corner, wearing a green silk shirt, wishing a girl would ask me to dance every time that song would come on. So why, on this lovely Sunday, is it stuck in my head? Not any of the verse, just the chorus: “It’s so hardddd to sayyy goodbyeee to yesterdayyyahhhheyyyy.”

The week started off pretty great, not just any day off in New York City, no, this was 4/30, also known as “Format Party Day,” a national holiday that we started in our own honor. On this day two years ago, we had a day off in Dallas, TX and instead of doing the usual (sleeping and complaining), we decided to check out the “grassy knoll” and the book depository, you know, get a good feel for that whole JFK assassination thing. Still laughing from when our merch guy Toco said, “I’m going to pour a forty over the X in the road where JFK was shot,” (still the funniest among many of the funny things I’ve heard him say) we decided to go to an Irish pub and get completely hammered. The six of us getting hammered together is quite the uncommon thing, usually its just a few people. Sam isn’t much of a drinker, a few of the dudes prefer other methods, so for all of us to sit down and order each other shot after shot was a pretty big accomplishment.

Remembering that we still had to drive to some crummy city in Texas we all stumbled back to the van in broad daylight, ready to sober up on the long drive that our poor tour manager (who wasn’t with us for the celebration) would not only have to endure, but manage? Little did we know that we would find him shirtless, sunbathing on top of our van. That sealed the deal right there, more alcohol was consumed at each rest stop, roaches were eaten, salsa jars were broken at Wal-Mart. We had no choice but to officially make 4/30 our own holiday.

Last year’s was janky (to say the least). We were on tour in Florida with our good friends Anthill, and despite the fact that they are the kindest and most respectful group of individuals, they were also the only ones really living up a holiday in our honor. Sure we were all drinking, but we were taking it pretty lightly because we were all recovering from the flu (big surprise there). So this year we had to make sure something crazy happened. Well, it kind of did, for some. I was pre-occupied in the city but I still made time to stop by the bar they had chosen (aptly titled “bar”) for a few drinks. After enjoying a few shots, going to “pound town” (the best drinking term I’d ever heard — the day before), and playing “Bleed to Love Her” on the jukebox, I had decided to call it a night. I know, I know, I am a candy ass nowadays when it comes to drinking, but I’ve figured out my limitations with booze (you stop the second you feel like you need one more to get “the perfect buzz”), and its already something I rarely do. But the other guys, they didnt stop there. While I was off sobering up and trying to find a pizza place that delivered really, really late at night on the upper east side, they were crashing hotel parties and proceeding to get even more liquored up. The only problem is that at the end of the night, when they stumbled back to our tour manager’s rental car, it wasn’t there. That’s right, “Format Party Day” now has something that can most likely never be topped — getting your rental car stolen. Amazing.

Actually, what’s even more amazing is that no one seemed to care; not us, not our tour manager, who wasn’t even there, not even the car rental company. I guess the extra $20 insurance fee that Muzz decided at the last second to get for the first time, really paid off.

The next day we played Yale. Wouldn’t have been much of a big deal, any other college show, had it not been for the fact that it was YALE, and we were opening up for T.I.!!!!!! As a kid, I was always impressed with Yale. I’m from Arizona, so it really shouldn’t have been anything I knew about, but I, like every other kid my age, watched 90210, and Andrea (you know, the 49-year-old playing a high schooler) was always trying to get into Yale, so it had to have been a big deal. After all, her character was smart beyond her years (wink).

The campus was beautiful and I was being extra observant because recently I have come up with this fantasy in my head that I was going to go back to college (I shouldn’t say “back to college” — I never went). It all started a few days before when I went out to eat with a few friends who attended Johns Hopkins, and one of them who worked in admissions told me that with my interesting background, I could easily get in. So being on an ego trip that I could get into Johns Hopkins, I decided in my head that I was going to go even larger. I was going to get admitted into Yale.

My first interaction with a Yale student was great. My girlfriend has a really good friend who was just accepted into the prestigious drama department there (I think Meryl Streep is an alumni). Not only is that an amazing feat in its own right, but also he was my age, and he said there were some people in his class even older than he. That really brought my confidence way up. But to top it off, he wasn’t douchey or pretentious at all. In fact, most of the people I met on that trip to New Haven were sincerely nice people. I expected a bunch of snobby, rich people, but I discovered that most of the students I met were people just like me — a bunch of dorks (does it sound like I’m kissing up to admin?). At one point we had a meet and greet with some students and in order to break the ice, I asked someone to randomly shout out their SAT score. At first it was silent until someone yelled out “1460.” To us, that was crazy, so we applauded. “1540!” We went nuts! And then came the inevitable “1600!” The whole place was cheering! I decided to ask them if I had a shot at attending, and it turns out I actually got the same ACT score as one of the kids (a kinda low score by Yale standards, but she was doing other extraordinary things that cant be measured on a standardized test). So as of right now “enrolling at Yale” is on my list of things to talk about doing, but never actually coming close to doing.

Oh yeah, the show was good, but what was even more classic was watching all of the WASPy kids file out of the park before T.I. went on (can you tell I just realized that ass kissing wasn’t going to get me into Yale?). Although I cant say I didn’t leave before T.I. went on. But I had an excuse. Not only did I have to wake up really early the next morning so that Sam and I could do a taping of Steven’s Untitled Rock Show, but we also had made dinner plans that night to meet a comedian by the name of Mike Birbiglia. If you’ve never heard Mr. Birbiglia, I suggest you give him a listen. You can pick up his comedy records pretty much anywhere they sell CD’s (though I suggest purchasing anything and everything from your local ma and pa retailer) and I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed. After we heard him a few months ago we decided to get in touch and ask him to be our direct on our headlining tour this summer. Unfortunately, due to scheduling problems, we were only able to nab him for four shows. But nonetheless, we had made plans to hang out and grab dinner.

After my first attempt at driving into Manhattan (Sam was betting on me being honked at three times, it ended up being two) we made it to our dinner with Mike early and as we waited for him to show up I started to clam up and feel really uneasy about meeting with a comedian: “What if I’m not funny?” “Well, I don’t want to be schticky, but I can’t come off as square.” “I wonder if he will find me so funny that he will use one of my stories in his act, or worse, what if I’m the punch line?” Well, you know how those SHITTY celebrity gossip magazines have headlines of pictures saying, ‘Stars are just like us’ and then it proceeds to show a picture of Ashlee Simpson eating a grapefruit or whatever the fuck she does (aside from getting mass amounts of plastic surgery)? And somehow we are supposed to feel better about ourselves although its most likely a genetically enhanced, filled with gold, $40,000 grapefruit (wow, apparently I’m saving all my comedy shtick for this blog). Well, after meeting Mr. Birbiglia I can safely say that comedians are just like us. We had a wonderful time, and I can’t wait to share the same stage with him.

Taping Steven’s Untitled Rock Show was fun, although waking up for it wasn’t, and afterwards I had another really nice day off in NYC. The thing is, NYC will be around forever, but we had taken those three days off as a brief break from shows with our newfound friends Guster, and unfortunately this specific tour with Guster was ending THIS SATURDAY! It was particularly sad because this was the first time we have ever been on tour supporting a band and I really didn’t want it to end. I would make the excuse to a few of the other band that we had toured with previously that I didn’t want the tour to end, but that was never really the case, I usually couldn’t wait to get home. But there has been something different about this tour. I don’t know whether it’s the fact that the people involved with Guster are the coolest group of people we have ever met. Or whether it’s the fact that I actually respect and enjoy their music and the way they have paved their career and their art. I’m positive that it’s both. Obviously those two factors alone would equate to having a great time.

The rest of the week really felt to me like we were on death row — just biding our time and awaiting the inevitable. Fuck, the inevitable was marked on a calendar. So I made the best of our time left on tour. Ryan beat me at any sport involving a racquet. We all hung out and played kickball after one of the shows (the game was decided by one run) and once the final chord was strummed, we all exchanged numbers and hugs and pictures and said our goodbyes. So that takes me to where I am now. Inevitably my last post on this website, reeling from the first tour to ever end “too soon.” It actually took awhile to type this and that terrible Boyz II Men song has since left my head, killing what was supposed to be the perfect set up for the final paragraph, and yet I cant help feeling like I did in junior high — Sad and lonely in the corner of the room. The dance over. Waiting to get home to my parents.

Eh, at least I’m not sweating profusely in a green silk shirt.

Or sporting a bowlcut.

Thanks for reading. See you soon.

— Nate

On the Web:
Campus Consciousness Tour website


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