In Charlottesville last Thursday it was time to party like it was 2004.
The line outside formed early as the young crowd packed Charlottesville’s Jefferson Theater, gathering at the lip of the stage for Franz Ferdinand’s inaugural visit.
While one might imagine the Scottish rock band in a much larger space, the venue was a beautiful setting for an intimate experience of their arena-sized rock anthems. The former vaudevillian theater, opened 1912, still retains some vestiges of its opulent former life with columns and carved festoons framing former theater boxes serving as lighting rigs.
Atlanta post punk trio Omni opened the show, playing the last date of their three and a half weeks opening for the first leg of Franz Ferdinand’s nationwide tour. The band made a fairly recent stop in Richmond, headlining Strange Matter with Richmond indie trio Lance Bangs, so it was exciting to see them on a larger stage playing to a bigger crowd.
And it’s appropriate that Omni acts as the link between the disparate sounds of Lance Bangs and Franz Ferdinand. As far apart as those bands are in most people’s minds, Omni strikes a balance between the old and the new with equal parts garage rock drive and angular post punk hooks.
Bouncing guitar riffs traded with fluid bass lines, backed by a steady snare-and-high-hat beats as the band meshed lo-fi grit and artsy rock seamlessly through their set.
Decidedly less bombastic than their touring counterparts, the band softly addressed the audience a few times during the set but mostly kept to cranking out songs from their debut, Deluxe, which the audience eagerly received.
For the three-piece’s last song, they were joined by Franz Ferdinand’s drummer, snapping out beats in tandem with the trio in their most flashy moment of the set.
As Omni said their goodbyes, a group towards the back had begun chanting for “Take Me Out,” though they were far from the most enthusiastic–towards the middle of the crowd, one person waved their shirt back and forth with increasing vigor, while an excitedly chatting group at the very front held a large homemade valentine, addressed to the band. Another group started waving a Scottish flag in anticipation of the band’s first visit.
The crowd erupted as the band took the stage. Alex Kapranos strode smiling out in a leopard print jacket and bright red snakeskin shoes, and strummed a few familiar chords–opening with their debut album’s first track, “Jacqueline.”
Franz Ferdinand’s set was undeniably tight from all angles, but the show’s center was firmly held by Kapranos. The singer vamped, jumped and high-kicked through the set, at times pointing at the crowd and at others making (and holding) spine-chilling eye contact with audience members.
Kapranos had plenty of love for the Charlottesville audience, as well, commenting between songs on the town’s charm.
“I like the vibe,” he said, to cheers. “It’s nice to be a place where you feel like you could stay a while.”
Kapranos made additional shoutouts to Omni for their last performance, welcoming them to the stage to express his thanks.
Set standouts included “Do You Want To?” and, of course, “Take Me Out,” as well as rousing performances of “Michael” and “Lazy Boy.” The old and new tracks sounded equally vital and energetic as the band showed no signs of stopping.
For the last song of their encore, the crowd passed up a Scottish flag that Kapranos proudly draped himself, bringing the performance to a crescendo with a show stopping rendition of “This Fire.”
Franz Ferdinand Set List
- No You Girls
- Paper Cages
- Do You Want To?
- Love Illumination
- Lazy Boy
- Huck and Jim
- Take Me Out
- Always Ascending
- This Fire
Check out photos from the evening by Craig Zirpolo below: