FFS (Franz Ferdinand + Sparks) make for manic merriment

FFS (Franz Ferdinand + Sparks) at the Observatory (Photo by Michelle Shiers)
FFS (Franz Ferdinand + Sparks) at the Observatory (Photo by Michelle Shiers)

Perhaps it doesn’t seem quite accurate to call FFS, the amalgam of Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand and pop eccentrics Sparks, a supergroup, but despite one’s recent wane in mainstream success and the other’s firm stance as a cult favorite, FFS have in fact made something quite super. The likely hooks and grooves created by this union sound a bit more Sparks than Franz but as a whole, the band sounds even and well-matched. Their debut album, cheekily titled “Collaborations Don’t Work,” just clicks and Wednesday night at The Observatory, FFS exemplified their ability to remain tight while still being unhinged in the way only they know how.

The band were introduced to the stage after a zealous man told us a rehearsed story about sex, comically ending with the audience at the Observatory becoming his sexual partners. When FFS finally emerged, they opened their set with “Jonny Delusional” and “Man Without A Tan.” Russell Mael’s operatic falsetto and Alex Kapranos’ easily-distinguished baritone sent fans into a quick frenzy as they both paced and threw up their hands, pointing at those wielding a sign that said “Sing to us FFS, For Fucks Sake.” Sparks oddball keyboardist Ron Mael maintained his stone-faced demeanor the entire time until he was invited to the center of the stage to wipe his brow with a towel, loosen his tie and dance around the stage before returning to his usual self.

Opportunities to play separate material were evenly split — performing Sparks’ “The Number One Song In Heaven” and “When Do I Get To Sing ‘My Way’” as well as Franz’s huge crowd-pleasers “Michael” and “Take Me Out.” The band certainly kept the show very visually stimulating — at one point Russell, Kapranos, bassist Bob Hardy and guitarist Nick McCarthy crowded around a keyboard and later McCarthy and Kapranos stood on the stage edge dueling guitars. They closed their main set with the jaunty ready-made chant-along “Piss Off” and returned for a three-song encore that finished with the album’s now-unsuitable title track “Collaborations Don’t Work.”

FFS were supported by Seattle’s lo-fi post-punkers The Intelligence, with their noisy garage rock of mature smarm.