I had a great time in Nashville this week. It was the perfect micro-break from real life. I got on the road after dropping Cara off at school and hitting Starbucks (I allowed myself one PSL this year and figured that day was as good as any to have it), the gas station, and the ATM. After a pleasant drive through the mountains’ autumn foliage, I arrived there right at noon thanks to the magic of time zones. I swung by the place in West Nashville where I was staying–I rented a guest house in someone’s backyard from airbnb–to drop off my stuff and then headed downtown. My plan was to park near the venue and wander around from there, which turned out to be an excellent plan, because there was a ton of stuff within walking distance.
I set off looking for a place to have lunch, but was sidetracked by a used bookstore in a renovated warehouse development that I spotted while walking past. I poked around in there for a bit and bought a paperback copy of The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin and a 50′s era edition of the Ward Lock travel guide to London. It was inscribed to a Tomlinson Fort Jr. of Sydney, Australia, and I actually found his obituary after googling his name yesterday. How cool is that?? He also left the one-sheet pamphlet about St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle that he bought for “2d” tucked in the pages. I love shit like that: the random, long ago ephemera of someone else’s life. And I had to laugh because it was all very Franz-ian, too, since they came up with the idea for Right Action from an inscription on a vintage postcard that Alex found in the Brick Lane flea market. My dear Dr. Fort, I would write a song about that one time you went to St. George’s Chapel if I were in any way poetically inclined.
After that I walked some more and stopped at the Flying Saucer, where I ate nachos, drank Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, and read for an hour. It was so relaxing. I never, ever get to do stuff like that anymore. Not that I sat around in bars all the time, drinking and reading in the middle of the day when I was childless. But I COULD have. The option was there if I wanted it. Since I no longer have any alcohol tolerance, I tipsily made my way next door to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, where they were showing the 30 Americans exhibition that has been traveling since 2011. What do I know about art, but I loved it–a lot of the works were visually stunning and impactful. The Frist Center is in a gorgeous art deco building that used to be Nashville’s central post office, so it was fun to just wander around and play “spot the art deco detail” too.
I spent the next 45 minutes or so walking down to the river via Broadway and then back up along a different street. Two observations: (a) there is so much neon along the honky tonk strip on Broadway, it’s like a mini-Vegas, and (b) it’s all very loud. I thought about stopping in at one of the bars to have a drink, but I didn’t really feel like drinking anymore and I kind of dislike country music anyway. Sorry, Nashville. So I walked back towards the venue with the idea to get a bottle of water or a coffee somewhere, neither of which materialized. As I approached the venue, I saw that there were already people lined up, so I decided to just hang out there until the doors opened. I stopped by my car to drop off my books (I had a third book in my bag besides the two I bought, so I was book heavy!), and swap my stuff into a smaller purse, the better to dance with.
When I got there, I could hear the band sound-checking inside and it was all very exciting. Then suddenly Paul (drummer) walked out and I was standing directly in his line of sight, so I smiled and he smiled and someone said “Hey Paul!” and it was all very awkward as he quickly got the fuck out of there. I had been casing the crowd for a guy from the Franz Ferdinand subreddit who I made vague plans to meet up with if we both got there early. At that point, I realized that the dude who spoke was probably him, so I went over and introduced myself to him and his girlfriend. Johnny and Alyssa from Chattanooga were sweethearts; I am so glad that we hung out. We drank Hi-C boxes (they had some in their car and ran to get them when I mentioned that I was thirsty), and talked about FF and music and life in general while we waited. They’re in college, so I felt about 100 years old next to them, haha. I didn’t ask their ages, but they both drank once we got into the show, so at least they were over 21.
Alex (lead singer) came out and chatted for a bit. He was just as charming and lovely as you would expect. He took pictures with a few fans and then was like “Hey, can I take a picture of all of you?” Everyone shuffled around and started posing for him. “No, don’t look at me!” Oh. Everyone stood back against the wall and stared off stoically into the distance. You can see the picture on Alex’s tumblr here. I’m the headless torso next to the blond with glasses. The blond is Alyssa and Johnny is the guy in the striped shirt next to her.
If you have read this far, now we finally come to the good part: THE SHOW. I got separated from J&A during will call line drama (FF attracts some seriously dramatic fans. Just saying.), so they got in ahead of me. But this venue was tiny. Like, teeny tiny. If you know Atlanta venues, it’s about the size of The Loft. Can you imagine seeing Franz Ferdinand at The Loft? Yeah, me neither. I found them again easily enough, a few rows back from the security gate and positioned exactly in front of the center of the stage. At one point, the guys next to me were getting a little pushy, so J&A commanded me to stand in front of them. “You drove further than us!” Well, okay. I didn’t feel too bad about it, since Johnny was tall and Alyssa was just along for the fun and not a huge FF fan. So there I was, cold chillin’ one row back from the front in a thimble-sized venue, waiting to see my favorite band perform on the stage that was maybe 5 feet away from me. No biggie.
Frankie Rose, the opening act, was marvelous. She had a surf rocky, echo-y sound and her backing band were the tits. My only complaint was that her set was too short; she only played for a half hour. Although I guess it’s good to leave them wanting more, no? Then there was more waiting, with all of us near the front of the crowd having a collective freak out as the stage was prepared for FF. And then…and then…
They came out and opened with Jacqueline, and it was all so damn fantastic and went by in the blink of an eye. It was incredibly surreal to be seeing them in such an intimate space. The only other time I’ve seen them play, Nick (guitar and keyboards) had a broken leg and sat on a stool the whole time. I was pretty close to the stage at that one too, but I was standing in front of him, with absolutely no wiggle room. So I couldn’t see Paul at all, and Alex and Bob (bass) were soooooo far away. It was such a contrast with this show: Nick was constantly pogo-ing around the stage and it felt like Alex was thrusting his hips right at me.
Despite my prime real estate, most of my pictures turned out pretty shitty. I don’t get too worked up about taking pictures at shows–I’d rather enjoy myself than worry about documenting everything. I tried to take a couple of each of the guys and hoped for the best. My shots of Bob and Alex were the only ones that came out clear, but the one of Alex does him no favors. He looks like a guitar playing Sunday school teacher. So I’m only sharing the picture of Bob, looking serene and peaceful. I can’t remember which song it was.
So, yeah. It was roughly 70 wonderful minutes of Franz all over my face, and it was awesome. I don’t mind if it takes another 4 years to see them live, it’s a date, my darlings. I will be there xoxo
Epilogue: After we rushed for the setlists (didn’t get one), I debriefed with Johnny and Alyssa, and Johnny proclaimed that it was the best concert he had EVER SEEN, which made my heart happy. Ah, youthful enthusiasm. I miss it. They hung out to try to meet the band, but J wrote me later and said that they never came out. Oh well. I thought about waiting with them, but I was tired and thirsty and my feet hurt and I was parked on a sketchy side street that I didn’t want to have to walk down by myself late at night. They did get to see Frankie and her band afterwards, and he said that they were super nice and signed some stuff for them.
You can see all of my Nashville pictures on my instagram feed if you are so inclined.
[Edit] I’ve read over this a couple of times since I wrote it and realized that I didn’t actually say very much about the show and the performance itself. Hah! I wanted to remember the day as much as the gig, I guess. I pretty much never have the time any more to go off and do exactly what I want, so it was a remarkable afternoon in that respect. Also, I love wandering around unfamiliar cities alone, and it had been a long while since that happened as well. Anyway, here are some bullet points about the show, if you are a fellow fan looking for some details:
- My surprise favorite of the night was Brief Encounters. I love it on the album, but it sounded so good live. And Nick groovin’ at the keyboards in his dad jeans, rocking out and giving absolutely zero fucks, was a visual highlight too
- They played The Fallen, which I had forgotten how much I loved when it first came out. All the feels came rushing back. That was a nice surprise.
- People going ape-shit at the intro to Take Me Out is the best. I thought the dudes next to me were going to jump over the security gate.
- At some point in the set, I got it in my head that I really wanted to hear Outsiders. When they played Treason as the third song of the encore, I was like “Ah well, I guess it won’t happen.” But when Treason ended, they launched right into Outsiders! Four song encore, bitches! It was the perfect ending for me.