Screaming Into The Abyss

Franz Ferdinand Visits Minneapolis
By Ben Zvan
On May 10, 2009 at 10:28

Franz Ferdinand - Nicholas McCarthy94 years ago, on June 28th, 1914, Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was visiting Bosnia to observe military maneuvers and open the state museum in Sarajevo. Rising against the perceived oppression of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, assassins killed the Archduke and his wife Sophie as they crossed the Latin Bridge. This event is widely regarded as the beginning of World War I or at least the final straw. The war started less than two months later.

Franz Ferdinand - Alex KapranosSeven years ago, in Glasgow Scotland, the band Franz Ferdinand formed to create a unique mix of electronic, rock, pop, and punk music. This event is widely regarded as the beginning of Franz Ferdinand's musical career. The first single from their first album reached number three on the UK charts less than two years later.

Franz Ferdinand - Robert HardyMy introduction to the band was playing "Burnout 3", crashing cars and listening to "This Fire." I wasn't quite hooked on the band until I played "Burnout Revenge" a year later and heard that first single "Take Me out." Since then, I have purchased all their albums on iTunes, some more than once as iTunes converted to iTunes Plus (non-DRM music is much easier to deal with.)

It's been a while since I have seen a sold-out show at First Avenue; actually, I think this might have been the first time. I arrived just as the opening band was finishing their last song and the place was already packed. Making my way up to the stage was tricky to do without inadvertently groping people along the way but after several apologies and people moving back to get drinks between bands, I made it up to the barrier. 

Franz Ferdinand - Alex KapranosI'll skip over the part where I was waiting for the crew to reset the stage for Franz Ferdinand and the woman leaning over the railing telling me to go get the security guy because she had "goodies" for the band. I'll also skip over listening to the stage hands checking the mics in Glaswegian. Oh... Oops.

It turns out that Nicholas McCarthy (first photo) had injured his foot while on tour and had to walk out with crutches. Alex Kapranos (second photo) led him out and made a big show of ushering Nick to his place, surrounded by synthesizers and microphones.

Franz FerdinandNot only was this the first time I'd seen First Avenue so packed, I'd never seen the front of the barrier so packed. Sharing the cramped space with me were two staff members and four other photographers. We managed to share the space, but I think the other photographers had to be kicked out for staying up there too long. It wasn't surprising since none of them seemed to have remembered to bring real cameras, just plastic toys with lenses on them.

Franz Ferdinand - Paul ThomsonSince I skipped over the Scottish accent part earlier I'll mention that, while I have a terrible time understanding anything that is said with a Glaswegian accent for the first several minutes of exposure, I love listening to anyone with an honest Scottish accent; I think it's because I'm distracted by the pure lyricism of the words. Alex said, in his accent, something about being back to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, which immediately endeared him to me; it's one of life's little annoyances for me when people call the place I live "Minneapolis St. Paul."

Franz Ferdinand - Bang The DrumsI have to be honest, I hadn't heard their new album "Tonight: Franz Ferdinand" before going to this show. I hadn't realized that, in the three years between "You Could Have It So Much Better" and "Tonight," the band had started playing with their synthesizers more. During the break between sets, the crew brought out a couple extra synths, one of which I recognized from The Faint's musical tool set but couldn't identify. When they started hitting the keyboards hard during "Lucid Dreams," I could have sworn I was listening to a different but just as excellent band.

Franz Ferdinand's music is a great listen, but their live show is a submersive experience. Watching them on stage, it was clear to me that they were there to play the music just as much as the audience was there to hear the music. The show ended with everyone in the band, and some guy from stage right banging on the drums with distorted video from an in-house camera projected onto them and the screen behind them. Once again, First Avenue keeps its place as the best place to hear music in the Twin Cities.

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