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SLCR #140: Franz Ferdinand (September 3, 2009)

Among me and my people, this show started off with an explosion of hype, but as showtime approached, the whole thing looked like it might be cursed. When I got the email notification of the show, I mentioned it to Mika and she was quite excited about going. More excited than I expected. This was the same reaction I got when I mentioned the concert on Facebook. Friends from Saskatoon, friends from Regina, friends from work, Mika’s friends, people who had never actually heard any of the band’s music… I was surprised to see how many people were interested in going to the show. So much so, in fact, that I planned to buy tickets the instant they went on sale because I was afraid the show would sell out in a hurry. Of course, I completely forgot until Marit sent me a text message complaining that Ticketmaster’s website wasn’t loading properly for her. I had a mild freakout; luckily, everything worked fine for me and there were still tickets remaining. In fact, I don’t believe the show ever sold out.

The plan was to distribute the tickets to Mika and Dave and Marit before the show, and I’d drive up to Saskatoon as soon as work was over. Of course, work decided to be work that week, and I spent much of the week changing my plans. I’m driving up after work, now I’m not, now I’m not going, now I think I can go… given that I actually listened to the first two Franz Ferdinand albums before the show, "waffling about attendance" can possibly replace "didn’t bother to listen to the CDs" as the running theme of these reviews. I miss the olden days when the themes were chicken fingers, mozza sticks, and Pat saying hilarious things.

On a note related to Pat, while we were sitting around the Odeon waiting for the show to start, I did have the occasion to tell the Xylonian knock-knock joke and its variant.

So, spoiler alert, I did make it to the show. Marit, though, was not so lucky, winding up in the hospital the week before the concert. She was doing okay by showtime, but didn’t think she’d be up to handling the ridiculous heat of The Odeon. Can’t say I blame her. Mika, Dave, and I had free tickets to see Eagles of Death Metal a few weeks ago, but the heat was so bad that we left after the opening act and went for drinks at the bar across the street.

Other friends also failed to make the show – I don’t know if they forgot it was happening, decided not to go, or were scared away by talk of the sweltering heat. Two of Jeff’s friends (Jeff being our very own ) bailed on him (or so his Twitter feed said), so he threatened to linger near us so as to not be that guy by himself at the concert. I magnanimously invited him to join us, along with Marit’s friend who also suddenly found herself with no one to go with.
Oh, and while I was driving up, Deserée texted me to let me know that she had lost her ticket. When I finally arrived (after having to work late, finish packing, and make the drive), I was pleased to see that Deserée had made it after all. She found her ticket exactly where she had left it. We discussed the importance of having one dedicated ticket place so that things don’t get lost. My tickets are kept in the cheese drawer in the fridge.

The drive up to the show was kind of intense. You see a lot of sky when driving through the prairies, and the sky was looking threatening. Dark clouds to one side, rainstorms to another, and a sunset barely visible through a hole in the cloud cover casting a really weird dark orange hue over everything. It was too bright for the headlights to have any effect, but too dark to see. And off in the distance, I saw hundreds of lightning bolts.

Mika was nice enough to get to the Odeon early, saving us a place in line. We were even able to grab some chairs up on the balcony. Sitting at The Odeon is a rare treat, and the balcony gives us a fine view of the stage and the fans. When I finally arrived, my people were scanning the crowd for bald spots. This did not interest me as much as the people themselves did. Over the course of the evening, we played hipster-or-not, a great game where you find someone who appears to have questionable taste, and you try to determine whether their clothes were chosen for hilarious ironic effect, or if that’s just what they like. We also saw a guy whose hairstyle, low-cut shirt, and… body type (watch me politely avoid saying "dude had boobs") gave him the appearance of a bearded lady.

The best guy, though, was The Dancer. There were many dancers, but only one Dancer. He would dance in people’s personal space – we thought he was there with those people, at first, but their reaction gave away that he was not. And his dance was wonderful. Imagine someone doing the robot while hopping on one leg. And air-humping.

So. The opening act… man, I don’t know what to say about them. The lead singer was this black dude who wore big sunglasses and danced like Napoleon Dynamite. I think there were two other people in the band but it was hard to tell. I have no idea what their name was. From where we were sitting, we could see a shirt at the merch table with a picture of a dog’s head and the word FAMILY on it, so I decided this band was called Dog Family. I think the guy said they were from Montréal. They only played about four songs, including one where he kept saying "I WANNA MAKE YOU SHOUT AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS" over and over. This was not a realistic goal. "I WANNA MAKE YOU WATCH ME FOR A BIT, THEN SCAN THE CROWD FOR BALD SPOTS OR BIG BOOBS DEPENDING ON WHO YOU ARE, THEN WATCH ME FOR A BIT MORE, THEN CHECK TWITTER FROM YOUR PHONE" would have been more realistic, if harder to sing.

There were six of us in my little group and we were all texting or checking the internet from our phones at various points in the evening. Some of us even texted others from several feet away. It’s hard to talk when it’s loud.

As for Franz Ferdinand, they were really good, if not quite the showmen that The Hives were last year. They didn’t talk much, except to comment on how bloody hot the place was. The drummer wound up shirtless by the end of the evening, and everyone else looked moist and uncomfortable. This did not stop them from going all-out, including a great ending number where all four of them surrounded the drum kit and played at once.

The first half of their set was very single-heavy – Take Me Out, The Dark of the Matinee, Do You Want To, You’re The Reason I’m Leaving – and I was kind of afraid that the second half of the show would be the one where I didn’t know any of the songs. But as it turns out, actually listening to the albums before the show negates that! I will have to remember that for the future.

Ultimately, I’d definitely go see them again. For that matter, if I knew who the opening act was, I’d think about seeing them again. They did not overstay their welcome, and while I don’t know if I enjoyed their act, I was certainly enthralled.

And the closing paragraph might be considered a spoiler for those of you who haven’t seen Inglourious Basterds yet…

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