I first knew of Franz Ferdinand as the guy whose assassination sparked World War I. (Bonus points if you can name the man who killed him). Why is the Austro-Hungarian/Austro-German empire always involved in the outbreak of war? Yet, music fans might know Franz Ferdinand as the Scottish-English indie rock band that was at the forefront of the post-punk revivalist movement in the early naughts.
Like most of the shows I have been attending lately, Franz Ferdinand was one of those bands that I knew of, but didn’t know their music. I enjoy most British things and am into post-punk (whatever the hell that means anyway), so I was anticipating a good time. Even with all my predispositions, I was still overwhelmed and blown away by just how awesome they were.
I tend to float around a lot at the Commodore, watching the show from different viewpoints as well as feeling the mood of the fans; sometimes up close, other times just chilling at the back. I’m always sober and always try to be as objective as possible. Even with my self-imposed rules, sometimes (and this is especially true at a Venue like the Commodore) the music and the passion overtakes my brain and my body starts doing things on the dance floor. Franz Ferdinand led to one such case. With killer drums beats, consistent and loud bass, and dapper outfits, FF are paving the way for a new kind of band: the well-dressed and smooth rockstar.
But Franz Ferdinand are more than just rockstars, so much more. They are history buffs, culture critics, politicos, artists, and all-around general art lovers. In addition to being named after an Archduke, the band has a long-standing love of Russian culture. Lead singer Kapranos and bassist Robert Hardy – who was originally an artist – went to art school together, where they bonded over their shared interest in Dadaism and Russian constructivist philosophy. Many of their songs were inspired by the Russian avant-garde movement. “Love and Destroy” was inspired by a character from Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, and “This Fire” and “Michael” both contain references to El Lissitzky. But their interest in art does not stop there. “Outsiders” is about the female lovers of Rodin, Ray, and Dali, whilst “Take Me Out” and “You Could Have It So Much Better” both allude to works by Alexander Rodchenko.
Beyond their love of art, Franz Ferdinand has also recorded numerous covers by a who’s-who of music. This includes LCD Soundsystem, Air, The Beatles, Pulp, Gwen Stefani, Britney Spears, Blondie, The Fire Engines, David Bowie, and Dutch band De Kift. They are currently at work on an album of Sparks covers. Additionally they have performed with Serge Gainsbourg, Jane Birkin, Girls Aloud, Xenomania, Elly Jackson (La Roux), Edwyn Collins, and rapper T.I. They have collaborated with French Academy Award-winning Actress Marion Cotillard and have been remixed by Daft Punk (obviously), Hot Chip, Justice, The Avalanches, Microfilm, and Erol Alkan. You may have heard all of artists mentioned in this list – I certainly hadn’t – but it’s impressive given both the quality (Serge Gainsbourg alone is cool enough) and its quantity.
With a band as intellectual as these cats, it’s not surprising they have won a bunch of awards. Their self-titled debut album won both the Mercury Prize and the Ivor Novello Award, as well as a Q Award and an MTV VMA for “Take Me Out”. Additionally, they have won three NME Awards, two Brit Awards and two Meteor Music Awards. They’re pretty much the coolest people out there.
To top it all off, their show had everything. A fantastic light show, accents-to-die for (did I mention how British stuff? 😛 – okay, pretty much everything European), and of course, good ol’ fashioned rhythms and beats. I may not be able to name a single song that they played that night, but I do that I liked them. Scratch that. Loved them.
1) What was the name of the assassin of Archduke Franz Ferdinand?
2) Which Harry Potter cast member starred as a fictionalized version of Michael Bulgakov in TV series “A Young Doctor’s Notebook”?
3) Robert Hardy was given a bass by Mick Cooke, who is best known a member of which Scottish band?
Franz Ferdinand released Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, their fourth album, through Domino Records on August 26, 2013.
RIYL: Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys, Muse