Death Cab for Franz Ferdinand

By liz

One of my favorite movie quotes of all time comes from a quickly uttered line in the 80's classic 'Say Anything':

"You probably got it all figured out, Corey. If you start out depressed everything's kind of a pleasant surprise. " - Lloyd Dobbler

Such is my general outlook on life... if you start off jaded you won't be disappointed by whatever gets tossed at you. This was the state that I walked into The Aragon Ballroom last night to see the indie-hype-package-tour of Death Cab For Cutie, Franz Ferdinand and The Cribs. I make no qualms about being an indie elitist bastard (except the qualm that the tag is entirely unfair as I'm not really an elitist as I want the world to share in my musical joys) but man, did I feel like the ultimate music snob last night.

Firstly, we missed the Cribs as we were too busy getting a drink or two in a cheap corner bar before facing the dreaded over-priced and over-iced drinks of the Aragon. Oh well. I saw them a month ago in Austin at an afternoon party and really didn't feel the need to write home about their performance then. Really doubt we missed much of anything. As the lights dimmed for the second band to take the stage, we're staring at Franz Ferdinand. Wait a minute here! My ticket stub reads "Franz Ferdinand", aren't they supposed to be the headliners? I realize when two equally large bands share a tourbus they sometimes switch hit, but I think this was a particularly bad call.

This would be the fourth (or fifth?) Franz Ferdinand show I've seen. Despite the monstrous stage and venue, the lads really do give it their all every show. That said (ahem, here comes the music snob) I started to feel incredibly bad for the people around me. As I looked about I realized a large percentage of these people have never seen Franz Ferdinand live before. They've never experienced the intimate stage setting complete with exuberant bouncing/dancing five feet from Alex's shiny shoes. As much as four musicians can try and fill a football pitch sized room, they're still light years away from the average person who wants to sing along with "Michael." That atmosphere sometimes makes a show for me. I didn't want to start throwing around "oh well the band was better a gazillion years ago or remember when we saw them in a tiny room with 50 people" schtick but I felt that way all through the show. I wasn't disappointed, I had no expectations to be disappointed with. They're still a great band and deserve all the praise they have heaped on them.

Insert a huge stand-around and talk with people break until the stage is broken down and replaced with fake trees. Hello Death Cab for Cutie. I have never actually seen Death Cab before as I'm not a huge fan. I think if in the right state of mind Death Cab could be great but after the up up up up up higher higher higher show that is Franz Ferdinand, Death Cab was downright dull. Repetitive tempos, similarly tortured vocal melodies... every song ran into each other. I really only could tell them apart by when the crowd would appear to randomly start screaming. I tried, honestly. I just couldn't find anything to revel in. We left after 4, 5 (10?) songs?

Let's recap... we missed the opener, liked (yet didn't love) the second band and left a few songs into the headliner. But see here's when the magic of 'Say Anything' makes it alright. I am not the least bit disappointed. Sure, it would have been nice to hear "Jacqueline" (we didn't btw) but it wasn't going to make or break my night. I so rarely take the opportunity to see live music without expectations, it's a nice change of pace.