Sunday, April 21, 2013

Franz Ferdinand – Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay, April 15, 2013

Franz Ferdinand at Humphreys

During that week in the middle of Coachella, Franz Ferdinand also swung down to San Diego to play a show at Humphrey's Concerts by the Bay.

They played all my favorites—"The Dark of the Matinee," "Walk Away," "Do You Want To," and, of course, "Take Me Out"—as well as a number of newer songs, presumably from a forthcoming album. It felt like the show was mostly older material, but I must confess, I don't know all their songs that well, and a lot of them sound the same to me, so there were likely a number of songs brand new to me but which nevertheless sounded very familiar. Aside from the hits, the highlight of the show was probably when all four members of the band converged on the drum set, each man taking up a pair of sticks to join in on roughly a five-minute drum outro to the night (pre-encore).

The band performed well—the songs sounded almost exactly like the album versions—and Alex Kapranos is probably the most effortlessly cool frontman of any band on the planet. That said, I found myself wishing they had put a little more effort into engaging with the audience. The show felt workmanlike on their part, with not only the songs but also every word spoken between songs written and rehearsed in advance. Kapranos would give a very short speech, for example, along the lines of "I woke up this morning and [blah blah blah]," and then that would inelegantly transition into the opening verse of "Do You Want To." Even the new songs were introduced in similarly cursory fashion (e.g. Kapranos saying, "I feel like I have bullets going through my head," to introduce the song "I'll Never Get Your Bullet Out of My Head").

Sometimes, between songs, Kapranos would only say, "San Diego, I think I like you."

"That's the third time he's said that," I remarked at one point.

And, each time he felt the need to say it, I felt less convinced that he meant it. The only thing I hate more than these disingenuous shout-outs is when they turn the mic to the crowd and ask us to fill in the chorus, which Kapranos did several times. First of all, I don't go to shows to be flattered into thinking myself a part of the band, or pay money to hear myself sing. Furthermore, it always sounds awful and leaves me feeling insecure over how my city compares in the band's estimation against other cities they've played (even though they probably don't think about it at all).

My companion had seen them play at Coachella just the night before and insisted they had been better, more energetic. Of course, I always love hearing that things got worse upon my arrival!

"They're probably tired," she suggested, making excuses for them, as though this platinum-selling band was somehow unprepared for the touring lifestyle.

"Y'know, it's Monday for me too," I said. "But you don't hear me complaining."

"But it's not Monday for them!" she pointed out. "They worked yesterday. And you are complaining."

Fair enough.

I really was in agony, though. I don't think I'll ever attend another standing room, general admission show. At least not on a Monday. My back cannot handle that.

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