"Right Thoughts," one of the two ripping new songs delivered by Franz Ferdinand, has a line that goes, "Sometimes I wish you were hear, weather permitting." Well, no problem, as the field was flush with fans after the downpour. "We're from Glasgow, where it pisses rain," frontman Alex Kapranos said, "but I don't think I've ever seen rain like that."
Having not visited Chicago in ages, the Scots were dressed in tight black slacks and black button-downs, determined to thrill. Kapranos sang, posed and teased like Jarvis Cocker heading Gang of Four (especially on the other new one, "Scarlet & Blue"). Nick McCarthy, when not playing like he was a Beatle in Hamburg, did an Angus Young hop across the stage while shooting Wire-like shards from his guitar. The drummer, Paul, dressed like a Teddy Boy, wore a KLF shirt and turned disco rhythms into a punch in the face. A chugging, throbbing remake of "Can't Stop Feeling" morphed into a cover of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love," before jerking back into Blondie doing sharp dance-punk.
Franz Ferdinand are practiced graduate students in the history of cool pop. The group bridges the jukeboxes of British pubs and the record crates of its discos. The group writes bridges, too. Nobody does that anymore. And the quartet slayed.
As the funky "Outsiders" built to its percussive climax, the four huddled around the drumset, each with sticks in their hand. They set about pummeling the kit in funky fashion. It was simple, visceral and electric. The guitars slashed and burned. The grooves had feet shuffling in the mud and hands in the air. God, I remembered why I love this band. What a set. I missed them. I think tens of thousands of us did.