Steve Norman of Spandau Ballet was a star player at the 9:30 Club on April 28, 2015. (Photo by Joy Asico)
When I look back upon 2015, I certainly discovered my share of new favorite bands. But I have to confess, the best shows of the year were dominated by legacy bands returning to reclaim their pop thrones. And so the shows I am most excited about in 2015 were generally those shows where a genre-defining artist came back to DC and absolutely mastered their art.
But I’ll add this postscript: 2015 also was the year of the punk rock girl, as several notable bands reminded me of how much I like a woman’s voice over a bit of surf or rockabilly guitar. I’ll explain more after my official list of Parklife DC Top 10 Concerts of 2015.
Alex Kapranos flanked by the Mael Brothers — Russell and Ron in DC on Oct. 5, 2015.
Starting from the very opening lines of Franz Ferdinand’s “Do You Want To?”, you could easily imagine the 2005 second album lead single as a classic Sparks song.
“When I woke up tonight, I said I’m…/Gonna make somebody love me!”
Consider songs from Spark’s 1983 opus In Outer Space — songs like “Popularity” and its similar glam/post-punk beats:
“I like you and you like me a lot/And it’s nice to be all alone with you too”
In hindsight, it’s little surprise that indefatigable Franz Ferdinand and the trailblazing Sparks also saw the synergies and combined forces to become the supergroup FFS (which of course is a shorthand for Franz Ferdinand Sparks… and not “for fuck’s sake” as some member of the audience called out on Monday night much to the amusement of singer Alex Kapranos).
FFS struck glam gold in a thunderous performance Monday night at the Lincoln Theatre in DC, charming an ecstatic audience who were clearly hyped to see the smooth blend of old school meets new school and the resulting theatrics.
Supergroup FFS combines Franz Ferdinand and Sparks. (Photo by David Edwards)
Legacy glam rockers Sparks love wordplay — they never met a pun they didn’t like. They are, after all, a band that released a seminal album called Kimona My House. They followed that up with lots of cheekiness in album titles like “Music You Can Dance To” and “Plagiarism,” among others.
Post-punk upstarts Franz Ferdinand also love wordplay — they never met an artistic statement as an allegory for life decisions they didn’t like. They are, after all, a band that released the cheeky “Take Me Out” and the referential “Ulysses.”
Well, a funny thing happened when Sparks met Franz Ferdinand: They discovered that they were two great tastes that taste great together, and so because Franz Ferdinand Sparks is a bit too cumbersome, they became the flash FFS.
The super group released its self-titled debut album as FFS earlier this year on June 8, drawing the sensibilities of the now six-member band somewhere into the middle of two extremes. The result is a hyper-intelligent if quirky new wave monster that really really loves wordplay. After releasing the album, FFS launched a world tour that comes to the Lincoln Theatre in DC on Monday, Oct. 5.
The lead single from FFS — “Johnny Delusional” actually was a familiar nervous pop song, particularly for those of us who grew up listening to the likes of Devo and the Talking Heads in the early ’80s. Watch the video for “Johnny Delusional” on YouTube:
The rest of the FFS songs have a bit more fun with their lyrical ambitions. Is “Call Girl” a wistful note to a distant love or a lascivious expression of sexual desire? “Dictator’s Son” is surely the first song to attempt to explore the soul of a dictator’s son? And “Man Without a Tan” is certainly a Sparksesque lampooning of what people find attractive among or between the sexes.
Tickets are available online. This is going to be great.
w/ The Intelligence
Monday, Oct. 5