There couldn’t have been a better time for Franz Ferdinand to perform. On the heels of a storm that set off a surplus of rumors about the day’s events being cancelled, Lollapalooza’s Saturday crowd returned to the boggy festival grounds with high expectations. Ripe with energy, the crowd’s enthusiasm converted to excitement as Ferdinand opened their set with “Dark of the Matinee.”
The band’s reaction to the audience, their first American one in nearly three years, was nicely put via vocalist Alex Kaprano’s declaration, “You have no idea how glad I am to see you all right now. You’re looking fucking good!”
Franz Ferdinand hails from Glasgow, Scotland, where the band’s revamped takes on new wave and post- punk took flight. Probably most known for the hit single, “Take Me Out,” their debut album brought U.K. and U.S. success. Their second effort, You Could Have It So Much Better, and its follow up, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, brought their collective worldwide record sales to over three million. This past Saturday, the group unveiled two new tracks, “Right Thoughts,” and, “Scarlet and Blue,” off their much-anticipated upcoming album, set to be released this year. Despite being stateside debuts, the two tracks left the fan frenzy uninterrupted, showing no signs of stunting the dancing visible throughout the large crowd.
The band’s live shows are more like a party than a concert. The connection between audience and artist is like that of a club DJ highly skilled in getting the crowd to feel as excited as the performer is for being there. The setting is intimate while producing something bigger than every individual present, making Kaprano’s frequent, good-spirited declarations to the audience seem like an invitation to a conversation one regretfully cannot fully engage in. The full-throttle energy set off in every direction was more inviting than off putting- the surefire sign that this party was one to remember!
Keeping true to the adventurous spirit of the evening, Ferdinand transitioned to a well-played cover of Donna Summers’ “I Feel Love”, midway through their song, “Can’t Stop Feeling”. Near the end of the show, the each member of the band played a drum solo during the bridge of “Outsiders”.
Whether taken with the bliss of surprise or the comfort of familiarity, both rampant throughout the set, the crowd remained ever devoted to Ferdinand’s party-friendly, dance-inspiring, and enjoyably-bizarre sound. Even after two years of relative quiet to devote time to their upcoming album, the band hasn’t lost their spark for the live performance. Like any expert showmen, they are tight as ever, thoroughly engaged, and louder than hell. This makes the thought of what their newer material may sound like even more exciting. As for Kapranos, his awe seemed taken by Chicago’s disastrous weather.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite like that, Chicago,” he said, short of breath from a lively, heartfelt performance. “You’ve surpassed yourself.” Judging by the audience, it looks like the band has, too.