I got down to Toronto's Union Station in the late afternoon yesterday, and trekked the rest of the way to the Kool Haus, where Franz Ferdinand would play a sold-out show after the sun set. The area reeked of compost and industrialization, but it was bright and warm. Pleasant weather for the dedicated fans that had been waiting in this line since AM hours. Those that showed up before 4 PM were lucky enough to have a chat with the band when they arrived. A friend of mine received a paper fry cook hat from some diner in the States as a gift from Paul, the Ferdinand drummer. He's trying to find the best burger in North America, you know?
By the time doors opened, the line had begun to curls its way around the parking lot toward the back of the building. We got in, and then we waited. Again. Track after track of techno beat was played as the stage crew prepared the equipment. Every time the beat dissipated, half the audience would gasp at the thought of it finally starting. When the beat started up again, we'd all let out a communal groan. This went on for just over an hour, then the Born Ruffians took the stage.
Now to be fair, the Born Ruffians played a pretty good set. Their singer-guitarist, Luke LaLonde, has a certain pleasant aura to him. He looks to the audience with a typical rocker's sort of gaze, but when you catch him glancing over and nodding to his band-mates, you can tell by his boyish smile that he's truly enjoying himself. Musically, the four-piece are definitely not afraid of their shout-along "oh-oh-oh"s, and that's always fun. But maybe it was that I was unfamiliar with their tunes, or the eclectic nature of their sounds, 'cause I had some trouble telling when one song ended and the next began. The Born Ruffians really did deserve more credit than the crowd was willing to give them though. After what felt like a ridiculously long wait time, (about two months of the tickets selling out, hours in line for those who were in the front, and a painful dance-soundtrack stage set-up session), we were all just waiting for the Franz to take the stage. And maybe that's how it's been throughout their tour with Franz so far. They did say that they recently started playing the final song of their set with Paul the Ferdinand drummer.
They Ruffians finished and the crowd grew restless again as new wait-for-us-to-set-up-again music started up. A weak chant of "we want Franz" started and moved across the audience, but died quickly as it had absolutely no effect. So again we waited, and just after ten the magic began.
The stage went red under the lights as Franz Ferdinand finally took to the stage.
Alex, Paul and Bob walk to their positions. Nick hobbles. The poor guy has still got his foot in a cast. He raises his crutches to the audience and the applause is deafening.
"Your foot's still fucked up!" is the only explanation we receive from our favourite frontman after a standard-setting performance of their latest single, No You Girls. The energy in the band and in the audience is fantastic! The bar is raised high for the songs to come, and still they never disappoint. In fact, half-way into the second song, there's already a pseudo mosh pit forming. I spent the rest of the performance being grinded into the barrier (I'll hand it to whoever was behind me, you were very rhythmic) and absorbing other people's sweat. Alex thanks us for our enthusiasm.
The set was comprised of jumps, kicks, jump-kicks and mostly songs from the third album Tonight, naturally. Live Alone is probably my favourite of that bunch, and it was great to see it live. The blitzkrieg finale to What She Came For spurred an insane riot about the crowd, and I've got the bruises to prove. But of course, they did indulge us a bit with the crowd pleasers- Michael, Shopping For Blood, Outsiders, Take Me Out.
And despite this, some girls decided to write up their own set list to toss on stage. Alex looks it over, reciting his favourite bits back to us. It includes the entirety of all three albums, and a special request for their bassist to rap the opening theme to Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
"Aw c'mon, Bob!" Nick encourages.
"One line! Just one line!" Alex insists. He turns to the audience. "Would you like to hear one line?"
"WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! BOB BOB BOB BOB BOB BOB BOB..."
Bob refuses. This might get uncomfortable.
"You're all too mean," Nick tells us. "Shame on you."
They turn to Paul. Maybe he'll do it.
"Eh, I don't know any of it. No, no. Alas..."
The show continues.
It was intense. By then time the boys returned for their encore, Alex had a bag of ice with which to ease his wrist. No one seemed to question it. He even attempted to crowd surf during This Fire. I think that was a poor idea on his part since the people in the front couple rows were mostly girls of petite stature that didn't quite have the strength to support him.
The band gave a final shout out to Toronto, and the show ended at about midnight. They gave a few waves and the stage was empty again. The sore and aching audience inched out of the sweaty humid building and were reminded of what fresh air felt like. That was quite possibly the best show I've seen.
And since I feel like I've written and posted about Franz SO many times before, I feel it'd be wrong of me to give you more tracks. What I WILL do is give you, quite literally the audio rips from my videos, posted up above. Have fun with the off-key singing audience. Ha, is that better or worse than actually giving you the album tracks?
Franz Ferdinand - No You Girls (live at the Kool Haus) (mp3) (amazon) (iTunes)
Franz Ferdinand - Shopping for Blood (live at the Kool Haus) (mp3) (amazon) (iTunes)
Franz Ferdinand - What She Came For (live at the Kool Haus) (mp3) (amazon) (iTunes)