Franz Ferdinand Played a Secret Show in a San Francisco Basement Last Night
Franz Ferdinand in San Francisco last night.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
The basement of Vacation
Better than: Any basement show we've been to.
By 10 p.m. the line stretched all the way down the block. Word of an secret Franz Ferdinand show in a city basement -- an event months in the making -- had gotten out. The sidewalk line outside of Tenderloin vintage shop Vacation was kind of like a hipster purgatory: PBR tallboys en masse, tipsy chats about friends in law school, everyone wondering if they'd get in. It was further proof that these Scottish rockers, long past the apex of their hype cycle, still have a sizable, feverish fan base.
The venue was Vacation's regulation basement -- narrow, low-ceilinged, and sweaty. Sometime after 10 it began to fill up, and fill up, and fill up even more. The band members pried through the awaiting crowd, grinning and looking a little stunned. Earlier this week the band played vast outdoor arenas in South America. Last night, the setup was minimal -- amps, drums, a P.A. for the vocals only. But it was enough. Franz Ferdinand filled that tiny, steamy box with arch, furiously sexy dance-punk for a good half-hour. The crowd danced and sang along and grinned stupidly. It was fantastic.
Performing without a setlist, Alex Kapranos and Co. began with a few new songs, which had that air of devious hedonism that animates so much of their best work. But the most surreal and thrilling moments (we caught the first of last night's two sets, divided up in order to accomodate the legions of people waiting on the street outside) were the big hits rendered in rickety, blaring basement-fi. About a decade after their arrival, "Take Me Out" and "Do You Want To" are still maverick dance-rock anthems, lustful and surprising and intoxicating. "Take Me Out" sparked the first fevered singalong of the night, while "Do You Want To" got an extended treatment that had the whole basement shaking and shouting in unison. It was a joy. It ended too soon. But at least it happened at all.
Other notes: Vacation often hosts shows and events in its storefront and basement, and usually they're free. Last night, however, the price of entry was five $1 scratcher lottery tickets.