Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Franz Ferdidamnation

Normally before a show I spend three or so hours picking out an outfit that tightrope-walks the line between "cool" and "what?" I'm not saying I didn't change my clothes thirty or forty times before the Franz Ferdinand show last night, because I did, but my routine was slightly altered by the disgusting amount of White Castle Brad and I ate for dinner before we left for Madison Square Garden. As a direct result of my being absolutely full of "sliders" I wound up dancing to "Darts of Pleasure" in my hippest of hip hooded sweatshirts and ancient Old Navy jeans. I was just too full of upsettingly soggy bun to wear anything else.

Lest you begin to think this isn't a review of the show, let me qualify; what I wound up wearing was profoundly related to watching Franz Ferdinand perform.

First and foremost, the Theater at Madison Square Garden is a less than ideal place to see any band, most of all a band who you really wish you had seen when they were playing tiny clubs. From row Y, section 206, the Alex bouncing back and forth across the stage may well have been a Lego figure. Brad and I got to our seats shortly after Franz Ferdinand's set had started, so I wasn't able to get a handle on the crowd with the lights on like I usually do before a show. It was all the more shocking, then, to hear the kind of drunk baritone usually screaming "FREEE BIRDDD!" at, I don't know, Lollapalooza, actually yelling "DARTS OF PLEEEASURE" at four stick thin Scottish dudes in girl pants.

How does this relate to my sweatshirt--specifically a sweatshirt I'd spilled Diet A&W root beer on? Somewhere along the line, Franz Ferdinand exited the arena of dandified audiences in clubs where people go to look at each other as much as the stage and entered the world of major concert halls populated with that familiar combination of diehard fans (who line up midday for a late evening show), high school kids, middle-aged folks with disposable income who recognized the band's name, and, of course, the omnipresent bunch of drunk dudes doing the straight guy headbob. "DARTS OF PLEASURRRRE!" [Bob, bob, fist pump, bob].

I'm not saying this is a bad development in the least. I would prefer to slap on a sweatshirt and head to every show I see. It would be better for my overall self-esteem. I'm also glad to see Franz Ferdinand has met the kind of success that can populate a several thousand seat theater. What I'm saying is that I wasn't paying attention when it happened. I suspect some of their success is due to the payola scandal in which their record company is embroiled (though I'm sure it's why Take Me Out appeared frequently on K1o4 in between Nena Sky and the Pussycat Dolls), but they also played the Grammys last year, and have been prominently featured on The O.C., and are, in general, one of those bands that people outside one countercultural clique appreciate.

Back to the stained sweatshirt. I felt completely comfortable looking kind of schlubby, dancing along to the impeccably dressed, magnetically attractive band with the rest of the slightly schlubby audience* in the huge hall.

This is the pillar of my theory that Franz Ferdinand is the rock band that plays in hell.

I don't mean that in a disparaging way. Firstly, Franz Ferdinand is comprised of a bunch of lanky guys wearing red and black, sneering and playing snaky sixties minor riffs on guitars they wield like weapons. They look like the lounge act that plays in hell, if hell is (as I suspect) a big 1960's Technicolor affair with the contrast flipped toward red. Each member is himself only a tail away from being the kind of imp that hops around in cartoon visions of the Inferno; replace the instruments with red hot pokers and you've got yourself functional damnation.

Second, they sound like the rock band that plays in hell. Every song is fast and intense and wears you out by its end, but before you can take a breath they've launched into an even faster, catchier song whose danciness you can't possibly resist. In hell, your pleasures become your tortures in exactly this way.

Thirdly, and perhaps most poignantly, Franz Ferdinand is the rock band that plays in hell because they are unbelievably attractive and charismatic. They have obvious assloads of fun up on stage. When these factors combine, row Y, section 206 is a Sisyphian distance from the stage, and your (now kind of sweaty, and still stained) sweatshirt is the boulder that will always keep you laboring towards and ebbing away from any kind of close physical proximity to Alex Kapranos's person. Franz Ferdinand is the rock band that plays in hell because they are excellent at what they do, but in that way that reminds you that you, you there in the sweatshirt with the soda stain right on the boob, are not a rock star.

Now chew on that for all eternity while the flames flicker, Franz Ferdinand plays "Evil and a Heathen," and your intestines are endlessly cranked out of your abdomen for thinking impure thoughts about Ryan Olmstead during your Confirmation Mass.

*Brad Walsh is a notable exception.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"disgusting amount of White Castle"

Any amount of White Castle is disgusting! Would that be called "redundancy," or is there a specific literary term for that?


5:21 PM  
Blogger What'sHerFace said...

No, see, any amount of White Castle would be "unacceptable." Five sliders and a sack of mozzarella sticks is "disgusting."

9:04 AM  
Anonymous mombi said...

well, at least i'll like the music when i get there.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous brad said...

oooo, i'm a hip mom. i like franz ferdinand and the bravery and interpol and gorillaz. oooo, aren't i a hip mom?

1:36 PM  
Anonymous mombi said...

bite me.

you really shouldn't be starting a fight on kathy's blog. start one on your own.

3:25 PM  

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