Despite their flash, their jingle, their maddening infectiousness, Gimme Noise didn't fully expect Franz Ferdinand to stick around too long after their self-titled debut album made splashes in 2004. Was it the camouflaged formula that lurked under all that raucous mess, slipping through the songs nearly unnoticed? Was it the fact that the catchiest songs tend to slip right off the mind as soon as they disappear from the airwaves? Who can say.
"Ulysses," the first single off of 2009's Tonight.
This wearied, ink-stained serf first heard their titular debut on a weekend to Chicago, a two day whirlwind that, either from the alcohol consumed or the sheer volume of activities undertaken, left virtually no imprint on a soggy memory. Except, of course, for the opening crescendo to "Jacqueline," the ominous sucker punch following all that breathy crooning, which portended, in the 15 seconds it took to crest, an album of no letting up.
But memories of the Strokes haunted like an albatross-- Is This It, the similarly catchy debut by a rag tag outfit called the Strokes was, despite its own immaculate execution, a prelude to nothing-- to an empty room, the ornate foreshadowing to a duo of half-hearted releases netting diminished returns, and then a slip into the nameless ether. Maybe this is why we didn't expect longevity from Franz Ferdninad. A once bitten, twice shy kind of deal.
Flash forward to 2009. A third album, Tonight, debuting at #2 on the US Billboard 200, an incessant touring regimen, spots at Glastonbury and Coachella, and no fewer outstretched hands and raised shouts of adulation than there were half a decade ago when they first appeared.
Good on you, boys. Maybe Pitchfork had the inside track on you, but we sure didn't. And it's nice to be wrong. It feels good to know that, at least once in a while, a band doesn't just up and pull a Harry Houdini while your head is still nodding to the music.
It's a rather stiff cover price for the Glasgow four-piece, admittedly, but to miss tonight's mainroom show really is to miss out on one of the more staid, tried-and-true international acts keeping rock and roll propped up and fighting, even if it's behind on points and badly beaten up. Their reputation as a live act is nigh inviolate, and you know you would have just squandered those $30.00 on a bucket of frozen hotdogs from Rainbow. Spending it on Franz Ferdninad instead is a much more nutritive way to blow it.
18+. 8:00 P.M. $30.00. With Born Ruffians. First Avenue Main Room, 701 First Avenue North, Minneapolis; 612.338.8388.