1MM: Barack Rock Benefit, F/ Franz Ferdinand, Les Savy Fav & Fiery Furnaces @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, 10.7.08

Photos/Text by Andrew Parks

As you might imagine by its tagline–”Music, Comedy, Action!”, featuring “6 Bands and 6 Comedians … Hyping the Hope”–Tuesday’s Barack Rock benefit was a mixed bag of stray surprises and endless set changes. The main problem was organization. Rather than take advantage of the comedians who were billed in between bands, the night’s promoters kept letting chunks of dead air settle in, leaving people with “come on already!” faces throughout the “Stage for Change” show. While we understand a group’s need for a soundcheck–especially Franz Ferdinand, since they haven’t played the U.S. or a venue this small in forever–everyone was playing four or five songs a piece, making the segues longer than the sets themselves.

Minor complaints aside, it was encouraging to see Hopeful people move between the concert itself and the “Obama Room” downstairs, balancing the need to see Guster (woah with the college rock flashback, guys!) and an unplugged-but-fierce Les Savy Fav with the debate itself, which was shown on one large screen and a handful of spotty, dorm room-sized TVs.

About Les Savy Fav by the way–it’s unfortunate that they were given a time slot right in the middle of the candidates’ sparring session. Unlike most of the other bands on the bill, they treated the show as an opportunity to do something different–something short but sweet, if you will–a series of singalong covers (Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” the Zombies’ “This Will Be Our Year,” David Bowies’ “Heroes”), complete with 40 lyric sheets passed out to fans and printed out by frontman Tim Harrington. We’ll reserve our judgement on Franz Ferdinand’s semi-triumphant return (the crowd simply wasn’t into last night’s performance despite the group’s convincing efforts) to this evening’s “secret set” at the same venue. Expect photos, a review and a set list from that later on. Photos for now …

One of the night’s openers covers “Poison,” pretends electroclash never ended

The Fiery Furnaces play “a Disco Biscuits-like set” according to one puzzled onlooker

Les Savy Fav’s first, and hopefully not last, acoustic revue

Franz Ferdinand try to ignore a bunch of blank-faced killjoys

And some completely random shots …