They sold out the nightclub days in advance. They played "Floating In The Forth" for the first time in Boston. They covered Neutral Milk Hotel's "Song Against Sex." They enthralled the collegiate co-eds: lovers embraced each other and swung to the rhythm, tousle-haired outcasts opened their throats to the low ceiling in time with their words, and it appeared that the band's stealth campaign -- delivered largely over the television airwaves in the background of prime time programming in recent months -- was reaping big dividends. They are Frightened Rabbit, and they are the biggest thing since commercialized bottled water. You probably won't see them in a club the size of Great Scott, Boston again until they reunite for a club tour in the year 2029.
After somewhat under-performing during its last gig in Boston, the Selkirk, Scotland-based foursome last night professionally delivered a characteristically heart-felt set of striking tunes. And although its live performances have become increasingly measured over the years, resulting in slightly less fire but a greater connection with fans, Frightened Rabbit played like returning heroes to the packed house on a snowy Saturday night. We had been hoping to be treated to a new song or at least a rarity (we were thinking "Last Tango In Brooklyn"), but even so it is hard to complain about a show that opens with one of the best songs of the decade ("The Modern Leper") from one of the best records of 2008 [review], and closes with the familiar assault of the medley of "The Greys" -- last night with a new, introverted arrangement -- and the incendiary "Square 9" (which never fails to thrill with its final moments of unhinged thrash courtesy of drummer Grant Hutchison).
Fronter Scott Hutchison dazzled the crowd with his unamplified acoustic ballad "Poke," and very graciously thanked the crowd, saying it was a rare occasion for the band to sell out a club. Frightened Rabbit delivered the hits, which in addition to the cuts mentioned supra included "Be Less Rude," "Good Arms vs. Bad Arms," "Head Rolls Off," "I Feel Better." The set marked picked up in intensity after a rousing rendition of the piano-led stomper "The Twist," and another big highlight was the latest arrangement of the ballad "My Backwards Walk."
While we've seen Frightened Rabbit so many times that there are few things that surprise us, we were very taken with openers Pants Yell!! If our memory serves we were first alerted to the band by BrighAAAAm about five years ago, and although it took a while for us to fully embrace the charms of the band (some live performance clips from New York's Cake Shop finally sealed the deal), we've become very big proponents of the cardiganed three. So we were very pleased to see the scritchy indie pop trio from right here in Cambridge deliver a charming set that led with one of our favorite tracks, "Reject, Reject." We were equally jazzed to hear "Tried To Be Good" late in the set, which was strong despite the missing backing horn tracks. We look forward to seeing Pants Yell!! many more times in the future.
Frightened Rabbit --
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[buy Frightened Rabbit records from Newbury Comics right here]
Pants Yell!! --
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[buy Pants Yell!! records from Soft Abuse right here]
Frightened Rabbit: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr
Selected Prior Frightened Rabbit coverage:
FR Live at the Middle East, October 2008
FR Live at TT The Bear's, July 2008
FR Live at the Middle East, March 2008
Review: Frightened Rabbit | The Midnight Organ Fight
FR Live at Great Scott, November 2007