Suffering from exhaustion after a sleepless night at Relay For Life and Monday’s Abnormal Psych test looming, there was only one thing to do last Sunday – climb in the car with my friends and drive down to Ithaca to see Franz Ferdinand and Death Cab For Cutie. That show was the highlight of my spring.

Franz took the stage first, opening with “This Boy” from their latest album “You Could Have It So Much Better.” Their energy never fell once, even during more mellow songs like “Eleanor Put Your Boots On.”

However the crowd’s energy level in Cornell University’s Barton Hall was not where it should have been. Frontman and guitarist Alex Kapronos has great stage presence, but he and his fellow Scotsmen seemed unable to get the crowd’s energy level to match theirs. There was energy and excitment, but the crowd and the band never seemed to connect.

The lack of amazing energy was outweighed by the quality of their performance. For me the most important aspect of live music is the sound. Obviously you don’t want to feel like your listening to the recording, but if the band’s live sound is completely different from the album that’s a huge disappointment. And don’t even get me started on how much poor sound quality can kill a show.

Fortunately Franz delivered with a sound that was true to the record but with enough adjustments to make the live show a unique experience. Not to mention the stellar sound quality, which could have easily been distorted in the cavernous space.

There was almost a feeling of nostalgia during their set, recalling early rock shows – well, what I imagine rock concerts were like in the 1950s and 60s. Maybe it’s their modern yet classic sound or maybe it was just the fact that they skipped an encore and ended the set with a simple bow. Whatever it was, Franz Ferdinand’s set was a refreshing alternative to many bands today who seem to be more focused on their image rather than music.

I’ll be honest – I never really got into Death Cab For Cutie and I’m not that familiar with their music. I’d rather listen to fast-paced music because the sound itself often overshadows the whiny emo lyrics I love to hate. For me Death Cab is too mellow and forces me to pay attention to the meloncholy, yet clever and poetic, lyrics. Death Cab’s music is not a sedative – it does have energy, but not enough to keep me interested.

Having said that, the Seattle quartet put on a great live show. Like Franz Ferdinand Death Cab had a great sound that was faithful to their recordings, but with an added energy that you miss listening to them in the coffee shop.

“I really enjoyed the show, but Barton Hall just really isn’t the most appropriate venue for them,” Ithaca College junior Amanda Pendolino said. “I would love to see Death Cab in a small club or coffeehouse. Their music is so delicate and precise – it’s not something you can really amplify and doesn’t translate well into arena rock.”

Both bands definitely would have fared better in smaller venues packed with die-hard fans with a genuine interest in seeing their favorite bands play.

Despite the audience’s relatively low enthusiasm for Franz Ferdinand and Death Cab For Cutie’s over-amplification, these were only minor drawbacks. The overall performances of both bands were extraordinary and I doubt that anyone left Barton Hall that night feeling disappointed.

Swain can be reached at

An open letter to all members of any university community

I strongly oppose the proposed divestment resolution. This resolution is nothing more than another ugly manifestation of antisemitism at the University.

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Ever since the invention of the wheel, humanity’s been blessed with one terrible curse: the realization that all things are, in fact, cyclical.