Apparently, Franz Ferdinand pretty much took over Westport yesterday.
It started early, with a KRBZ 96.5 FM-sponsored "Kegs and Eggs" acoustic show at the Firefly.
According to reports, people began waiting outside at 6 a.m. or earlier. I'm not sure when they began letting folks inside, but they had to turn some away. The lucky ones got to nosh on a breakfast buffet and get drinks at the bar -- and then go to work and throw up in their cubicles.
Around 9, two members of Franz Ferdinand, frontman Alex Kapranos and guitarist Nick McCarthy (wearing a cast on his foot), came out and played four acoustic songs. Then the crowd carried McCarthy and Kapranos outside, put them on a donkey and paraded them to the Beaumont, laying palm branches in their path in a crude recreation of Palm Sunday.
I'm kidding. Instead, the Glaswegians must've gotten some good rest, because Franz Ferdinand's performance later at the Beaumont was no joke.
Gotta hand it to the Buzz -- they know how to promote a show. Or maybe the near sold-out Beaumont was due to the good folks of Kansas City knowing good music was happening in town on a Monday night. Or maybe Franz Ferdinand, a dashing, dancey, almost-disco rock band from Glasgow with only three albums under its belt, has gotten a good deal bigger since coming through our area, some four years ago at Liberty Hall. I don't know, but there sure were a lot of people.
There were even children there, little postpunk offspring, clinging to their parents' knees out on the refurbished wood floor. (This was my first time at the club since its remodeling -- or "cleaning up" as people tend to put it when they talk about it -- and it is a much nicer place to see a show now. It's still hard to see the stage from anywhere but down front, the mezzanine railing, or the railing on the ramp leading up to the bathroom, which are of course the most crowded areas at any show.)
The band came out at around 9:15 and launched into the latest single from Tonight Franz Ferdinand, the catchy mating commentary "No You Girls." A lot of Franzy's songs are about boys and girls and going out. I hadn't realized it until just now, but the group is kind of like a art-school educated, party-animal nephew to early Blur. They've got the boing, the humor, the self-mocking British sophistication. Sonically, FF has more the jagged, distorted guitars and whomping bass of Gang of Four, but their rhythms prance rather than lurch. Franz Ferdinand is some jauntier than a sailor boy on shore leave in Brighton.
The next song was "Matinee," from the group's 2004 self-titled debut. And so it went with Franz (comprised of Kapranos and McCarthy, plus bassist Bob Hardy and drummer Paul Thomson, a cast of Hobbit-sized blokes) playing various songs from all its releases, rather than sticking only to the new one. That seemed to be a good approach, as the band probably needed to reintroduce itself to its midwestern crowd, which, for its part, did seem to groove a little harder to more familiar tunes, such as "Auf Achse" (not that anyone here, including myself, can pronounce that or tell you what it means), the giddily fun "Do You Want To?" from LP2 You Could Have It So Much Better, early favorite "Take Me Out," and the delirious, rocking closer to the encore, "This Fire," throughout which Kapranos hurled his guitar around in the shifting stage lights like he didn't care what sound it made so long as it squealed and moaned real loud. People clapped in time, waved their arms, did just about anything anyone on stage told them to do.
A little more time, and newer songs like juicy stomper "Turn It On" and the mind altering raver "Lucid Dreams" will rise alongside the brilliant (and very bad for you) current hit "Ulysses" in establishing Franz Ferdinand as more than just a bunch of skinny-tie fashion rockers.
Last night proved they can put on the plaid and make the midwest dance to songs inspired by French cinema and homoerotic attraction. (Yeah, dude, you in the outdated St. Patrick's shirt, I totally saw you dancing your ass off to "Michael.")
In need of a little more help was the opening act, Born Ruffians, from Toronto. I'll reserve final judgment until I've heard some of their recorded material. From the stage last night, their high-toned, island-music guitars and dance rhythms reminded me of Vampire Weekend plus the whole wave of British dance-rock that groups like Franz and Arctic Monkeys popularized. They couldn't seem to hold the crowd's attention. I wrote "Tropic Monkeys" in my notepad, but that's not necessarily bad.