RABBIT REDUX: Frightened Rabbit, JB’s, Last Night [Photo by CHRIS Z.]
BY CHRIS ZAKORCHEMNY As Scott Hutchinson struck the first chords of “The Modern Leper,” adrenaline shot through my spine. It’s that moment of a quiet verve that feels like hope in your lungs. Judging by the smiles, ‘woos’ and out of tune singing of the sold out crowd around me, it was as if each one of us had “a disease I can’t shake.” Not that we wanted to. The song blistered through its four minutes, and had me wondering what this band was doing at Johnny Brenda’s last night. They they deserve a bigger stage. Everyone should know about this band.
In part, this was a show for a band with a name that has been in all the right places on the Internet. They put out a record, Midnight Organ Fight, that simply could not garner a bad review. But nothing about their enthusiasm is imagined, or wrongly pimped by the press. Outside of the digital and print world, Frightened Rabbit deliver a live show with enough power to exorcise demons – so much that you forget that Hutchinson is revisiting demons.
By a purely lyrical standpoint, Hutchinson is an over-the-top romantic tormented by a brutal breakup in Midnight Organ Fight. To be blunt, the lyrics are really fucking depressing. But as a band, they overcome that sharp lyrical edge, while still picking the right moments to show their vulnerable set of knives. The band can overtake or support the lyrics and capture moments so well that between “Backwards Walk,” “Head Rolls Off,” and “Floating In the Forth,” I actually forgot I had a review to do. I was powerless.
The set only featured two songs from their first album, Sing the Greys, one of which was in strong competition for one of the many high points of the night. The sonics and emotional heights achieved in “Square 9” were everything a great band achieves in a live show. Epic, commanding, playing like tomorrow was the end of the world. Beads of Hutchinson’s sweat were falling on his guitar. Drummer Grant Hutchinson’s mic was a little too high, only accentuating the exertion needed to participate and play “Square 9” properly. This was Grant Hutchinson’s song. Not only did it look like he was trying to break his drum kit by how hard he was pounding it, but let out a raw scream in a split second of silence that, if it was needed, confirmed that this band meant every bit of it.
Frightened Rabbit will return to Philadelphia on Jan. 29 for a free acoustic show at Rewards Boutique.