Photos By Emily Cohen, Early Review By Bryce Rudow, Late Review By Kendelyn Ouellette
When trying to articulate my feelings about Frightened Rabbit’s early show at 9:30 Club that I recently attended, I randomly begin thinking about “Streetlights”by Kanye “Yeezus” West.
In what is secretly one of his top 10 best songs, he begins with the simple request:
Let me know
Do I still got time to grow?
Things ain’t always set in stone
And I know what he means.
I’ve been in love with Frightened Rabbit since I was introduced to them my junior year of college five years ago. One spin of “Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms” and I was done for. And we’ve had some amazing times since then…
With The Midnight Organ Fight, I learned how my body worked to “The Twist,” I learned that it takes more than fucking someone you don’t know to keep yourself warm and I learned how “You’re the shit and I’m knee-deep in it” could be some of the most beautifully heartbreaking lyrics of all time. With The Winter of Mixed Drinks, I found a Top-10 All-Time favorite song: “The Loneliness and the Scream.”
But when the time finally came for their most recent album, Pedestrian Verse, to be released, the spark that I’d always felt between us just didn’t feel as strong. I had predicted back in January that this album would “finally elevate them to a higher echelon of mass popularity and critical acclaim,” and yeah, that does seem to be the case, but for some reason, those butterflies I’d always felt when listening to Scott Hutchinson’s wail were curiously absent. I like to think that it’s my fault. That maybe I just need more time to grow with it (because things aren’t always set in stone), but let’s be honest, guilt has never been a good motivator for love.
With all that stewing inside me, I hoped that their early show at 9:30 Club would be the second honeymoon we needed. Memories of heart palpitations and breathless screaming from their last 9:30 Club appearance danced around my brain, and I was cautiously optimistic that this night would be just the same.
Instead, it felt like a polite 5th-anniversary dinner.
Excuses were made on both our parts; I tried to tell myself that the blame lied on scheduling this show on a Monday, Scott nervously joked to the crowd that these early shows are the kind where you have to bring a bottle of whiskey to work in order to get ready for it. We all cordially laughed, but there was a mutual recognition that something was off.
And maybe I just didn’t like the menu…
Obviously, this tour was in support of Pedestrian Verse, so a majority of the night became a reminder of how much time had passed since we first met as opposed to a celebration of how far we’d come. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; gems off the new album, like “Acts of Man,” “The Woodpile,” and “The Oil Slick” were delivered with all the beauty and power I love this band for, and seeing “Nitrous Gas” live proved that these Scots can still surprise me. But when a relationship is on the rocks, sometimes all you want to do is re-live the good times and remember why you fell in love in the first place.
I needed “Good Arms vs. Bad Arms.” I needed “Foot Shooter.” I needed to look at this person and this band and see more than just a charming guy and talented musicians. I needed a crowd that didn’t feel like an NPR audience displaying the same attentive satisfaction one might give a surprisingly good street musician (though I will say that they were respectful enough to keep their cell phones down). I just needed something more.
And I get that this may come off as me saying I had a bad time, but I didn’t. Really.
Really; it was fine.
The acoustic mini-set, the fan requests, and the witty banter still swelled my heart and widened my eyes. The finale of “The Loneliness and the Scream” still seduced me into belting out the singalong “Wuh-oh-oh-ohs” with everything I had (and I was not the only one). I even remember seeing a relieved smile come across Scott’s face when he saw that he finally, even if only for their last song, had connected with us all the way he knows he can on a good night.
But after that smile and song were over, when he gratefully thanked us by saying, “You made a bunch of tired men forget that they were tired,” I responded by dejectedly thinking like Kanye…
“I’m just not there. Life’s just not fair.”
The Scottish clearly know how to rock. Frightened Rabbit, with their ginger beard and quirky humor, took the 9:30 stage by storm. DC was their last stop on 3100 mile American tour, but that didn’t mean they held anything back. They proved their love for their District area fans by playing two shows back to back.
The eclectic nature of the crowd only went to show that indie rock knows no age, with the youngest in the crowd being maybe 10 or 11 and the oldest being…well we’ll be polite and not guess.
Lead singer Scott Hutchison infused the set with levity by ragging on his little brother Grant (the drummer), like any good big brother would do. He continued to enchant the crowd throughout the evening and anyone who came to the show was not left wanting at the end of the night.
Their name pays homage to a time in Scott’s boyhood when he was shy, but to put it simply, they no longer have to worry about being frightened rabbits, because they are Frightened Rabbits. They were dynamic, engaging, and they know how to provide a good time.
The night was opened by the Augustines, who’s brand of indie rock hails from Brooklyn. Their sound was far grittier than that of Frightened Rabbits, but the juxtaposition of sound severed to benefit the opening act by setting them apart. Had they been too similar in sound, their act would have faded from people’s memory short after they exited the stage. But, lead singer Billy McCarthy, made sure that would not be the case. Though their set was short, he made certain that no one would forget them. Without a doubt they ended the evening with a plethora of new fans.
McCarthy’s passion for his craft is clearly evident in the way that he pours his soul into every song he sings. Their set focused on music off of their first album but they tantalized with a few songs off of their new album that’s due to come out in the beginning of the new year, giving the crowd much to look forward to when it comes to their music.