Though the election is a month away, the mood at Barack Rock — a comedy, rock, and, yes, comedy-rock benefit at the Music Hall of Williamsburg for “that one” — was more relaxed and celebratory than the tenor of the hard-fought campaign would lead anyone (or at least any Democrat with at least a four-year memory) to believe. The pupu platter of indie-rock bands — including Les Savy Fav, Guster, the Fiery Furnaces, Andrew Bird, and surprise guests (!) Franz Ferdinand — filled their allotted twenty minutes with sing-along crowd faves. This went especially for the “acoustic spectacular” set from Les Savy Fav, who passed out sheets with words to standards like Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” and the Monkees’ “Stepping Stone.” The Furnaces, whose Matthew Friedberger put the event together, were also in a playfully retro mood, sounding like a soul revue as they sweated through some tracks from Blueberry Boat, closing their set by mashing up the title track with the Meters’ “Cissy Strut.”
Best among the comics was Eugene Mirman, who screened his hilarious adventures covering the RNC and shared stories about drinking with the Secret Service. He also introduced Franz Ferdinand, playing in the smallest venue they have in years, as the “South by Southwest Breakout Stars of 2004.” The band had the audience at hello, but they brought the energy of a band playing a 500-seat club for the first time, and even thanked the audience for “letting a bunch of Limeys” play. After six hours of rock, the mood returned to Earth — with some assistance from Andrew Bird, whose plaintive violin and earnest entreaties to not get complacent had people getting complacent. Closing with “Tables and Chairs,” which conjures up apocalyptic images of “crumbling financial institutions in this land,” he sent everyone out into the chilly streets with a perhaps uneasy sense of why the show came together in the first place.