Sunday, February 15, 2009

Live: Frightened Rabbit

Let's have a change of pace: happy thoughts! We gotta stay positive...

Frightened Rabbit
January 18, 2009
Great Scott, Allston, MA

After three songs of solid singing and whoo-ing along to Frightened Rabbit, lead singer Scott Hutchison looked at the mic and said "tonight's gonna be a good one." He was right.

They apparently didn't see many packed houses on this tour; in fact, their heavily front-loaded set list seemed to expect an audience to become distracted if they didn't keep them hooked from the get-go. That wasn't the case last month at the sold-out Great Scott.

And it's not going to be the case again if they keep this up. Seeing these guys up close and personal, on a stage that had no private entry or protection, was a treat unlikely to be repeated. If they continue to pop up on network pap like Chuck and Grey's Anatomy, it'll take a lot more work to see them from the front row again.

Given the crowd, and their popularity even as a fledgling outfit, that train might have already sailed. Hundreds of true believers braved a crippling winter storm to show up and rock out. The crowd was a lot more die-hard than I expected; their energy and sing-along skills drove the performance to surprising heights. It's hard to have much of a stage presentation in such a tiny setting, but they managed to show serious presence anyway. By covering each of The Midnight Organ Fight's eleven proper songs, and clearly, clearly busting their asses in the process, I don't think they would have let anyone leave disappointed. They really gave it their all.

While their music is nothing particularly special in structure, the amount of heart that Hutchison (and his brother, Grant, on the drum kit) pours into the music makes it special. In my Best Of 2008 post, I drew a comparison between them and Neutral Milk Hotel based on those very qualities. So it was no surprise when Frightened Rabbit busted out a cover of "Song Against Sex," from On Avery Island, during their encore. The only less surprising covers would have been "The King Of Carrot Flowers" and "Holland, 1945." Anyway, as a big NMH fan I was glad to see someone playing their music. (I've got a post on NMH in my draft folder; sit tight.)

Anyway, I left the show completely satisfied. Thanks to the storm, it took me two hours to traverse what is normally a 30-minute trip. Exhausted as I was, it was worth it.

Set List

The Modern Leper
Fast Blood
Old Old Fashioned
I Feel Better
Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms
The Twist
Backwards Walk
Head Rolls Off
Floating In The Forth
The Greys
Square 9

Poke (acoustic)
Song Against Sex (NMH cover)
Keep Yourself Warm

Opening Acts

Not much to report. Pants Yell! was okay, not too shabby for a local band. David Karsten Daniels, on the other hand, seemed preoccupied with his elaborate foot-switch setup when he should have been connecting with the crowd. When the material doesn't line up with the crowd or the other two acts, but you still need to keep someone else's crowd amused, you really can't be taking minutes between songs to draw attention to your bells and whistles like that. He lost me after two songs.


  1. Ok, after months of ignoring them, I'm on board.

  2. Ya gat damn right you are. How dare you ignore my advice. You'll pay. Do you wear scarves?