Franz Ferdinand & MGMT
Festival Hall, Melbourne VIC
July 24th, 2018
In a time when nu-metal and teen-pop congested the airwaves, an ambitious emergence of ‘indie rock’ made an instant impact on music aficionados worldwide. Coined in the 80s to label bands who emerged from punk and post-punk notoriety, it wasn’t until the early 00s in which the experimental indie scene achieved international recognition.
Thanks to the advent of the MP3 and contentious peer-to-peer-sharing programmes, these once niche bands now had widespread visibility. Blending ingenious DIY ethos with perfectly crafted, catchy and hook-laden garage sounds, a new rock saviour was anointed each time another fresh-faced, jangly band surfaced. Thankfully, this saw Limewire and up-and-coming music blogs inundated with a ripple of brilliance which may not have ever been discovered.
That may be oversimplifying it a lot, but in the wake of the on-going success of Bloc Party, the Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes, two groups jumped on this bandwagon in its early days and are yet to get off.
Fresh from their spectacular Splendour in the Grass sets, era-defining juggernauts Franz Ferdinand and MGMT have blissfully joined forces and bought a special double-feature showcase to Melbourne’s iconic Festival Hall.
In front of an eager audience, varied in age yet united by excitement, first on stage were MGMT. Here to promote their latest album Little Dark Age, and accompanied by a large inflatable Salad Fingers looking creature, the Brooklyn duo sounded just as theatrical as their music.
Opening with the album’s title track, its carefully constructed, dimensional meddling synth hooks are taut and incredibly infectious. The band’s mischievous energy continues to shock, as the hugely enjoyable When You Die, James and Weekend Wars were greeted with great applause.
Gambling through a fresh swathe of smart, catchy and hyper-melodic hallucinatory rock cuts, standouts She Works Out Too Much and Me and Michael were a gorgeous look into MGMT’s contemporary weirdness – including an on-stage acrobatics and exercise bike class.
However, as expected, the stunted rock-star lifestyle ballad Time to Pretend and candy-coloured acid trip Electric Feel dazzled. Anthemic battle cry and 70s inspired, electro-pop fantasy Kids eventually bought the evening to its apex until the set closed on the slow burner Congratulations – written by lead Andrew VanWyngarden in Melbourne some ten years ago.
After a short break and another beer, everyone in the hall made themselves heard the moment Scottish art-rockers Franz Ferdinand took to the stage. A born performer, the relentlessly sultry frontman Alex Kapranos purred as throwback single The Dark of the Matinée began.
Soon followed by the lush arrangements and slamming dance beats of No You Girls and Do You Want To, it was the rocking new track Always Ascending which inspired some of the most frantic crowd movement – the likes of which only the older classic pieces usually receive.
Kaprano’s remarkable stagecraft, perfectly paired with the fizzing guitars and disco-influenced drums of fresh tunes Lazy Boy and Feel the Love Go, make for an dynamic set without too much musical naivety.
However, it is not surprising that the swagger of grizzly knockout Love Illumination, bass heavy Ulysses and breakthrough single Take Me Out kept the hands raised and the glitter ball above the stage spinning. The croon of timeless Walk Away, on the other hand, kept the audience in complete harmonic unison.
As equally impressive as gently mad, encore number This Fire ran well past the venues curfew time. But who cares when it is this perfect to sing along with.
A staggering return to form for the Glaswegian heroes, Franz Ferdinand tonight proved they are a band that refuses to overstay their welcome. Having nicely settled onto a path of unique, brazen neo-Brit-pop, this was a wonderful showcase of just how ambitiously tight, catchy and musically rich they still are – a true testament to their early 00s personas.
While indie later contradicted itself by eventually straying from independent distribution, some say this is when it sold out. Regardless if it did or didn’t, its overall brash and alternative attitude thankfully remained. And if that means having to dance with a few thousand others in larger venues, I don’t see the issue.
Gig Review by Jimmy Russell @jamco17
Photo Gallery by Holly Parker @hllyprkrphoto.
Please credit Wall of Sound and Holly Parker if you repost photos.