FFS (Photos by Brittany O’Brien)
From swaying and atmospheric to face-melting electric rockabilly distortion by way of teeth, The Intelligence managed to put just the right amount of pep in eager FFS fans’ steps at their Oakland debut at the Fox Theater last Thursday. They may have looked like your dad and his friends, but I assure you the Intelligence earned their spot as openers for FFS as they jumped over drum sets and kicked their feet in the air while shredding notes that filled the grandiose theatre.
As the pulse of the crowd dropped between bands, I couldn’t help but to wonder if the sign reading ‘Franz Ferdinand + Sparks’ outside misled the masses. Did these people think they were here to see Franz Ferdinand as opposed to their long awaited collaborative with Sparks, FFS? How would they handle this?
Under the glowing eyes of the ‘Sultan of Good Tunes’ of the Fox Theater, (as dubbed by a certain bearded music praetorian), and backed by a single disco ball, all six members of the, dare I say, super group, FFS appeared. True to form, their first musical utterances were like the opening credits of an epic cinema. They fittingly followed up with the theatrical “Johnny Delusional”, a song about a “borderline attractive from afar” Johnny whose vivid delusions thrust him into the fantastical world of actually getting a date. The fear of a potential uncomfortable wrestle for the frontman limelight was abundantly subdued as I beheld two smiling cohorts taking turns and sharing key lines simultaneously pushing each other and onlookers deeper and deeper into the land of wormy pop terrestrials.
The fledgling collaborative drew from their collective 57 years of pop-dom giving no window into their mere three weeks of pre-tour rehearsal time. The guys were tight. They were true showmen. And above all, they were having a blast.
The band continued to up their quirky game with “Man Without a Tan” and the nonsensical “Bom-bom-diddy-diddy.” The mounting swell finally broke into a full blown dancing release when FFS gifted the crowd with what I presume most thought they were there to hear, the Franz classic, “Do You Want To” complete with high kicks and effortless twist jumps. It was a gift that kept on giving as they played the early 2000’s chart topper, “Take Me Out” a few songs later.
FSS pulled out all the stops including Russell Mael and Alex Kapranos down on their knees in prayer and shared loops around the keyboard, but nothing topped when the haunting unimpressed stare of Ron Mael suddenly broke into none other than a scissor kick across stage. Not one, but two complete laps – only to return to character, a little out of breath. The show completely escalated with “Nothing Matters” and Paul Thomson’s favorite, “Dictator’s Son”. FFS left Bay Areans on a high with FFS’ hit that started it all, “Piss Off” and with the hope that maybe, just maybe, collaborations do work.