Saturday, July 15, 2017
We started the usual summer concert season in an unusual venue (DC's 9:30 Club) with an unusual audience (millennials) watching a band with an unusual name.
Frightened Rabbit may be the best up and coming rock band you never heard of. Rest assured that many fans on the other side of the generation gap have, as the band has been selling out concerts from Boston to DC, and been on festival bills in Sonoma, Houston and Hyde Park, London.
Their U.S. swing in May was in support of their fifth album, Painting of a Panic Attack, whose title captures the complex psychological pathways of their songs. Those pathways are filled with twists and turns and a musical surprise around every hedgerow.
Rabbit's lyrics are introspective questions about how to cope with life and love but at this point, their teenage angst and fatalism have given way to a knowing world weariness, tinged by optimism. Founder and front man, Scott Hutchison, weaves some dark and torturous stories that somehow find a ray of hope at the end of the musical road.
Blood Under the Bridge
It's just blood under the bridge, and it's alright, it's alright...
I found the way to make the best of a flaw
And realize it's not the end,
It's just an uncomfortable pause.
Die Like A Rich Boy
I'll be Shakespeare's moonstruck king
We can lose our minds at the top of the hill
We burn cash and carry a decadent flame
Way into the night and beyond the grave.
Juxtaposed with these serious essays are rocket bursts of music from four guitars, drums and keyboards that have been playing together long enough to be polished without losing the fun of performing live. Hutchison keeps the audience entertained between songs with wisecracks about forgetting mates birthdays and how they're glad they did not move to California (from Glasgow, Scotland) because their songs would be "all happy and full of vitamins."
While their live show was a raucous, bouncing bar band romp, their studio CD comes across as a smooth, sophisticated production with an intensity that often delivers a wall of sound.
It's the words surfing in behind that sound which give Frightened Rabbit a lasting musical impact. They capture the emotional push-pull of their generation and do it with a great back beat.
I'm a worshiper, a zealot king, cursed, a devotee
Of the heady golden dance she does
She's an uncut drug...
I saw a glimmer in the dark and now I know
She won't get out of my heart, she won't.