all words: Shona Fenner
all photos: Shauna Alexander from last time
DC was lucky enough to be one of the stops on White Rabbits’ short east coast tour. In fact, we were the last stop… as they obviously saved the best city for last. The band is currently working on their third album, taking a break from an intense stint in the studio to play us a few shows. White Rabbits treated us to a set chock full of both new songs and old favorites. Both bands on Sunday kept the stage pretty packed, with five and six members respectively. Not only did they come en masse, they also played more instruments than you can shake a stick at. It made for a lively and solidly entertaining way to close out the weekend.
Up first we had a relatively unknown group of boys from Brooklyn called Caveman. They turned on a fog machine first thing and when the haze lifted they tried to charm our collective pants off. Caveman’s sound struck me as impressive because of a skillful use of harmonies along with a good deal of drumming. To get me to like a new band it really just takes strong percussion and some fresh style, so Caveman quickly caught me up.
I heard somebody behind me mutter, “…look at that fuckin’ hipster.” This seemed pretty dim given that the show was at Rock n’ Roll Hotel on H Street, unsurprisingly one of the more hipster places you could find yourself in this city. But the band did look significantly more Brooklyn-y than we are used to down here. Their singer had on a White Rabbits shirt, which I thought was a nice touch. The band looked like Brooklyn hipsters and were so nice I don’t think even the hater behind me could have kept his attitude up by the end. In between a few songs we were told what a pleasure it was to play for us, how much Caveman loved us, and most importantly to forget that Monday morning was fast approaching.
Our headliner comes from the wholesome Midwest and now hails from New York as well. They take their name from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland” and combine two guitars, two drums, synth, bass, and keys all energetically in one. White Rabbits started out quick with mostly songs from their second album, It’s Frightening, along with some great selections from what the band has been working on lately. You could tell the audience wanted to hear songs where we already knew all the words, but this sneak preview gave us a taste of what’s to come… and its good y’all! From what I could see each member of the band was drinking a Bud heavy and at one point one of them rushed offstage. He quickly emerged again right at the end of the next song’s intro and jumped back up. He informed us later that it was a bad idea to try to go pee during their sets as the intros are never as long as you would like. Lesson learned, I guess.
I stood next to a White Rabbits super-fan who told me she had seen them at least five times already, and then made a point of saying hello to almost every band member. She exclaimed repeatedly how good the new songs were and how “tight and fun” the whole set sounded (her excitement was punctuated by some lengthy make-out sessions with her male friend which were oh so nice for me). Everybody seemed to have a different song they were waiting for and you could see faces in the crowd light up whenever some familiar chords or beats began.
Arguably White Rabbits’ most popular song is “Percussion Gun”. It has been featured in a couple television shows, including Friday Night Lights (which I heard some people actually have watched??). No matter what TV show this song has been on, it was obvious that this one is a fan favorite. The typically stationary crowd actually started to move and pockets of some astonishingly spastic dancing developed. From the side where I stood, my eyes were graced with a perfect view of a couple actually bumpin’ and grindin’ to indie rock! A little farther back we had pogo-ers and once everybody got going the rest of the set featured much more movement, which I think the band appreciated.
White Rabbits ALMOST had me disappointed, but won me back with their encore. I had spent all night waiting and crossing my fingers for my personal favorite, “Kid on My Shoulders”. This song has appeared on a couple of my mix CDs and features their two drummers strongly, along with a sweeping and catchy chorus. By the time they exited the stage for the first time I was pretty crestfallen and ready to go home. But when the band finally mounted the stage once more they gave us another brand new ballad and the song I had been impatiently waiting for.