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all words: Matthew Shaver
all photos: Shauna Alexander

I was a bit tardy to the Frightened Rabbit party. From what I know, it more or less started as a one man band, playing shows mostly on the fly, making up the words along the way. Any evidence of those rambunctious early days was gone Monday night, at the 9:30 Club. In it’s stead was a full blown indie rock outfit. When the band took the stage, it was clear from song one that they have graduated from their humble beginnings as a struggling singer/songwriter and his brother, and come in to their own as a fully fleshed machine capable of intense, passionate expressions of heartache.

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Opening the set with “The Modern Leper” the band blazed through the first half-hour or so, taking time here and there to exchange some witty banter with the audience. If the speed with which they were ripping through tracks made some think they couldn’t wait to get the hell out of D.C., lead singer/Scottish Ambassador (at least, he should be) Scott Hutchison soon revealed that the group feared it would be a while before they could make their way back, so, they were gonna play as many songs as possible. Nobody in the capacity crowd dared to stop them.

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Hutchison sang his heart out, sometimes blurring the line between broken teen howl and legitimate crooner. Billy Kennedy, Andy Monaghan, and Gordon Skene switched off effortlessly between keyboards, bass, guitar, and everything else they could fit in the bus, while Grant Hutchison reminded me of what a good drummer can really do. He compliments everything the guys play rather than overpower it, or worse, disappear completely.

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Working mostly with tracks off of “The Midnight Organ Fight” and “The Winter of Mixed Drinks”, the gents from Selkirk provided an evening composed of working class anthems of love and loss, charming accents, and an awesome mustache. The only downside of my experience was the song “Foot Shooter”. Admittedly one of my favorite tracks, the solo performance was marred by an overzealous fan and Hutchison’s willingness to oblige. Telling the man, “I didn’t want to fuck up your request…” so, “It’s just me and you in the room now.”, the remainder of us were robbed of an intimate experience. An acoustic rendition of “Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms” immediately followed, and, as the crowd shouted out “I might not want you back, but I want to kill him”, all was forgiven.

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The night ended with a raucous blast of clapping and chanting along to “The Loneliness”. For the entire evening, the crowd had picked up all the “oohs” and “ahhs” of the bands catalogue, of which there are many, and filled in the blank spots as any dedicated audience can do. In the end I left with a sense of accomplishment, a feeling that by joining the club I had put in a full days work, but that I wasn’t the only one. Frightened Rabbit has been working hard to earn their following, and it is paying off in spades.

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