March 25, 2008

That Was The Show The Was: Frightened Rabbit | Middle East

Frightened Rabbit, Live at the Middle East, May 24, 2008
It would be a tall order finding as passionate a performer in indie rock as Frightened Rabbit fronter Scott Hutchison if his brother Grant wasn't spectacularly smacking the hell out of a drum kit and singing along only a few yards away. Sweating like they were in a spinning class, caterwauling about rotting love with steadfast conviction, the brothers' performed Monday night with the intensity of priests performing an exorcism. The solemn, reassuring presence of Billy Kennedy and newcomer Andy Monaghan on second and third guitars, keys and even bass guitar provided some levity to the proceedings. But even so the Glasgow-based quartet's set -- not unlike its show at Great Scott in November that we reviewed here -- largely conveyed the same desperation that Scott sings about in "The Modern Leper," a song in which the protagonist's body is in danger of completely coming apart due to decay.

The set -- which preceded and in our opinion completely overshadowed performances from Bodies Of Water and Sons And Daughters -- opened with "Fast Blood," and we recall that "The Modern Leper" was performed third. Frightened Rabbit closed out their commitment with blistering renditions of "The Greys" and "Square 9" from the debut Sing The Greys, which was released in the U.S. last year. In between Frightened Rabbit also played the recent single "Head Rolls Off" (after an amusing anecdote about the video shoot), "Old Old Fashioned," "Keep Yourself Warm," a very soulful "My Backwards Walk," and some others. No performance of "The Twist," which after the set Scott chalked up to the midi keyboard the band uses when touring sounding like crap.

We learned a lot during the course of the evening chatting with the guys. Most importantly, we learned our review of the band's forthcoming set The Midnight Organ Fight [link] contained an inaccuracy. We attributed the sheen and remarkable development of the interstitial tracks on the new record to the production work of Peter Katis (Interpol, Mobius Band), but it turns out that those tracks were solely the creation of Mr. Hutchison (as is the album art packaging the new record, incidentally). Despite being wrong, we were pleased to learn this, because it adds strength to our belief that Frightened Rabbit's music is growing in very exciting directions. Hutchison reports that with the release of The Midnight Organ Fight, he has cleared out almost all of his backlog of songs. Because of this the band's third record will not follow so fast on the heels of the second as the second did on the first. Hutchison reports having about a half-dozen songs that he is currently working on, and he expects to do a lot of writing in his future (he doesn't write everyday, but locks himself away and does it all at once).

The bulk of that writing will have to wait a little, as Frightened Rabbit will return to the United States to support the release of the new record in May and June. We'll post those dates when we receive them. The current short slate of dates -- which began at the South By Southwest music confab and closes out tonight in New York at Union Pool -- ended up not timing out well with the release of The Midnight Organ Fight, which was pushed back to its current date of April 15. This release date shuffling led to the band selling pre-orders at the show last night with some sort of air mail scheme that promised willing fans a copy of the record via mail a week ahead of the proper release date. We learned that a vinyl release of the record will only be available as an import in the U.S., so start digging through your couch for change. In the meantime, you can view our photos from last night here, and below are the same two MP3s we posted with our review.

Frightened Rabbit -- "The Modern Leper" -- The Midnight Organ Fight
Frightened Rabbit -- "Head Rolls off" -- The Midnight Organ Fight
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Justin Snow said...

I really enjoy your reviews of shows. It's nice reading about different people's experiences to shows I went to.

I like your blog a lot. I posted a link to your blog from mine, so I'll be checking back frequently.

Unknown said...

Thanks Justin.