By Susannah Hicks - Rock the Plank - 04/15/2006

I have never been to CEPSUM before and when I arrived, I was surprised to see how big it was. It is a huge stadium, reminding me of the Sky Dome. The openers were The Cribs but sadly I didn’t get to catch their act. Throughout the whole night, both Franz Ferdinand and Death Cab mention how much they like the openers, even dedicating songs to them so if you are into both headliners, check out The Cribs.

When I arrived, Death Cab For Cutie just started their set. Their stage was neatly set up with two almost life-sized white cardboard houses and a black screen with painted silver trees on it, echoing the style and visual aesthetic from their new album Plans. I have never seen Death Cab before, so I didn’t know what to expect; I was disappointed with their performance. They seemed distant from the crowd and the sound wasn’t the greatest either because it was in a big stadium and there was a lot of reverb and no crisp sounds. To be honest, even though I really like their music, their set was kind of boring. At some points, lead singer and guitar player Ben Gibbard would change from lead guitar to piano, which was a nice transition but that was pretty much all the movement in their live performance. Songs performed included "Soul Meets Body", "Movie Script Ending", "We May Be Giants" -- which they extended and made into a ten-minute song -- "Sound of Settling" and many more from their new album, omitting several from their older records. The end to their set consisted of guitarist Chris Walla jumping off the stage in unison with Ben Gibbard and smashing his guitar -- it was a cheesy ending and did not fit Death Cab’s style. In the so-called mosh pit area where I was standing, there wasn’t a lot of room and being on the far right, I could only see glimpses of the band members, which could have given me a skewed perception of the show. People around me weren’t even listening or watching the band, they were talking to their friends. They didn't seem into Death Cab -- maybe they were waiting for Franz Ferdinand or maybe they just were not into the performance -- so the crowd made the set less interesting and exciting. The sound also wasn’t that great and yes, their songs were good but because of the crowd and the lack of energy from their performance, I think I would have had as much fun at home listening to their album with popcorn and some root beer.

The roadies -- one wearing a Gang Of Four sweatshirt -- took down Death Cab’s equipment and "shortly" thereafter, Franz Ferdinand came on. The crowd was a lot more excited, dancing and cheering. There was also no room to move, very reminiscent of a sardine can. I do not know Franz Ferdinand’s songs, but I could recognize the second song they played, “Do You Want To”. The backdrop changed from the logo of their new album to the four band members' faces. The fifth song they played was “Take Me Out”, their best-known hit and thus people were really into it. They got the crowd pumped when they paused during the line "take me out" so the audience could sing it. Lead singer and guitarist Alex Kapranos was a great performer. In-between each song he would talk to the crowd and talk in French to get folks excited; he was a real charmer. The band was really entertaining, their set being definitely more lively than Death Cab’s. My favourite part of their performance would have to be the second-last song they played, during which there were three drummers playing one drum set at one point. I thought Franz Ferdinand’s show was more entertaining because Alex Kapranos gave the crowd what they wanted and in some songs he would jump high in the air bending his knees while striking the guitar -- pretty awesome move. He would move all around the stage and stand up on monitors and sing directly to the audience. All of the band members had great stage charisma so even though I don’t particularly love their music, I definitely enjoyed their set more than Death Cab For Cutie’s.

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