A day cannot be bad when you’re woken up with Franz Ferdinand’s Ulysses in full swing at half nine in the morning. This accidental alarm clock makes the few days camping in Zagreb’s scorching heat all worthwhile. It is the seventh year of the INmusic Festival held at lake Jarun on the outskirts of the Croatian capital and Franz Ferdinand are familiar guests. They even helped launch the festival back in 2006 made a second appearance in 2009 when presenting new material from Tonight. Some criticize their recurrence, but the audience that grows with every show proves the irrelevance of such remarks.
I scramble out of a tent that is minutes away from turning into a furnace just like it’s done for the past two days. Unusually this year, the rain sidestepped the event and with temperatures rising over 40ºC, any activity whatsoever is impossible. Some campers sought refuge in the lake but as reaching the beach is a feat in itself, a friend and I decide to move to the comfortable shade of trees close to the main stage. By the time we manage to get there, Franz Ferdinand seem to be gone and we relax in the light breeze that has thankfully made an appearance this morning.
It takes us about an hour of lounging under a tree with a sound-check in the background before my friend makes the point that no other band performing that night is English and yet people on the stage are speaking English. A visual reconnaissance and a blanket relocation later and we’re part of the Franz Ferdinand practice session. Unbeknownst to us, it was to go on for three hours before they were practically driven off from the stage after taking multiple ‘just-five-more-minutes.’ Fellow campers that were likewise lured in by familiar tunes and beats didn’t seem to mind. There was consensus – we could listen to them go on all day and night.
Luckily, we manage to survive the searing heat but we deny ourselves the cool of the night air as we move towards the front rows. Franz Ferdinand are about to take the stage. There, it’s literally almost a sauna with sweat coming out of every pore and tempers flaring. One chick-fight is averted just before the start and subsequently, every tall person is refused passage.
The band open with Michael and instantaneously a mosh pit begins. This level of energy continues throughout the hour of their performance. The old songs are received with thirst and enthusiasm and Can’t Stop Feeling (that they spent all that time rehearsing) is enriched with a snippet of I Feel Love in tribute to Donna Summer and performed faultlessly. Alex Kapranos seems unaffected by the heat as he climbs amplifiers and teases the audience in between continuous jumping.The energy levels dropped slightly only when new material was presented with Right Thoughts, Brief Encounters, Scarlett Blue and Trees & Animals. These songs still boast the trademark sound but they seem to lack the killer energy of the previous releases. Trees & Animals teeters on the edge of classic punk but compared to their concert in 2009, the new material wasn’t as enthusiastically received. However, with Tonight, a couple of singles had already been released and the audience had time to get used to the new sound and songs which is not the case with their latest album.
Franz Ferdinand’s performance was the perfect show to close the three day music festival with a bang, a blast and a few fireworks in between. The band still justifies their ticket, even if they didn’t bother to come out for an encore –which slightly shocked the audience. However, in order to decide whether they’ve “still got it” we’ll have to wait for the new album to be released (and named!) and let them get on with a few more practice sessions before we reach the verdict.