by Ziggy Merritt
Saturday night’s show at the Electric Factory opened with one of the first North American tour stops for the newly minted FFS, a supergroup collaboration of Franz Ferdinand and Sparks that has also spawned an album of the same name. It was a night of surprising theatricality and giddy excitement as fans of both bands came together to enjoy one of the more inspired and deliciously weird performances I had seen in quite some time.
Opening for FFS was The Intelligence whose album, Vintage Future, came out this past September. A collection of moody surfer punk grooves and rowdy guitars defined their brief set as vocalist Lars Finberg made occasional humorous interjections between songs. Their performance was just enough to sate the dancing needs of the man just in front of me who I assume was trying his best to perform the stanky leg with middling results. Thankfully my friend and I had moved closer to the front of the crowd by the time The Intelligence wrapped up their set, albeit with some regret that I did not take photos of the dancing wonder.
Fronted by Alex Kapranos and Russell Mael, FFS made their eventual debut (Franz Ferdinand themselves made their Electric Factory debut back in 2004) to much appreciation and applause. They opened with “Johnny Delusional” one of their latest singles off of the recent album, showing off the natural cohesion of Sparks and Franz Ferdinand before ending their encore set humorously with “Collaborations Don’t Work.” In a previous interview with drummer, Paul Thomson I had asked about the onstage dynamic of either band, which I was pleased to find as well-fitting and organic. There were few if any moments during their lengthy set where I saw two distinct bands performing on the same stage. Instead it seems as though FFS was bound to come into being from the start of either group’s inception.
Adding to this theory was Kapranos and Mael’s brotherly chemistry on the stage together as they sang the lyrics to Sparks and Franz Ferdinand covers with ease. “The Number One Song in Heaven” and “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us” rounded out the Sparks covers before the encore performance of “When Do I Get to Sing My Way?” Each featured the lively antics of Mael and Kapranos as they danced through each number, notably hopping in unison with guitarist, Nick McCarthy for the eventual cover of Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out.” The suspiciously stoic Ron Mael even joined the fray, jangling his way around the comfort of the keyboard with the rhythmic thump of drums supplied by McCarthy and the younger Mael brother during “The Number One Song in Heaven.” It was theatrical and at times campy, yet these qualities made FFS a memorable sight to watch and listen. Some collaborations do work after all.