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Review and photos by Gypsy DaveyIn prayer it's called a mantra. Its purpose is to transcend ones mind and spirit to a higher level of awareness, through repetition of chant, or mantra - in essence a contemplative line of communication with ones' God du jour.
Frightened Rabbit uses such aural incantations in the crafting of song; infusing meditative properties-strengthened by the repetition of cadence-that crescendo to such rhythmic onslaughts, making each piece feel somehow familiar, even when hearing it for the very first time. It is in this experience that the listener loses touch of self and connects with a collective higher consciousness. The cacophonous soundscapes are intricately layered, andtexturally constructed, often building to a "white noise," where the sea of sound is silenced and you are left alone to focus on lyric.
This is a lot of lofty mumbo-jumbo for a band that has stated that they "could take it, or leave it," with regards to music, so I highly doubt that their intent going in was to net the results they find coming out, but they're tapping into something and it's working. Their calendar is filled with sold-out show after sold-out show, and continued buzz will undoubtedly add to them.
The evening opened with "Holy," off of their latest release Pedestrian Verse (an odd album title since nothing about their verse seem remotely pedestrian). "Holy" is a true gem, and slated as the albums third track, it's where their latest release really takes flight. Billy Kennedy's aggressive bass-line harkens back to early '80s punk efforts, while Andy Monaghan channels The Cure's Mick Dempsey with his guitar work, a fitting opener to the evening. Continuing the volley of songs between P.V. and 2008's The Midnight Organ Fight, we come to the next song of which, frontman Scott Hutchison told of being his niece's favorite. She was asked in her classroom setting, what her favorite song was, I'm sure her reply of "Late March, Death March" fell on a few surprised ears. Again we volley back with Organ Fight's beautifully messaged "Old Old Fashioned," Verse's "Backyard Skulls," before returning to Fight's "Head Rolls Off" where Scott's brother, timekeeper Grant Hutchison really shined, and I mean really shined, adorned in his "Saved By The Bell" homage Tiffani Amber Thiessen t-shirt.
The highlight of the night belongs to the gentle performance that Scott delivered during The Midnight Organ Fight's rendition of "Poke," where he stepped out from behind the microphone and approached the front of the stage. He presented the back half of the song unplugged, and unmic'd. The packed Pabst Theater politely silenced themselves as Scott proceeded in song, until the lyric "I'd say she was his sister, but she didn't have his nose," broke someone to laughter. Scott chuckled, after contemplating the line, before regaining composure to finish the song and state, "It's good to know I can walk into any comedy club and that would be funny."
The first set closed with Pedestrian's opening track "Acts Of Man." The stage set smoke-filled and bathed in blue light, with keyboardist Gordon Skene breaking through the fog of silence to open the song. Scott's aching confession of "I'm here, I'm not heroic, but I'll try," is engulfed in laser light as he pines, and is presented over an up-tempo percussion, aggressively chopped out by his brother. It was a much more raucous rendition than found on the LP cut, and a perfect closer to the first set.
The encore was quite a treat, with an unexpected four-song set kicked off by Pedestrian Verse's instant classic "Woodpile," "Winter Of Mixed Drinks," "Living In Colour, Midnight Organ Fight's "The Twist," and finishing with the entire theater clapping and singing along to Winter Of Mixed Drinks' "The Lonliness," where the evening ended with everyone howling and clapping along like in attendance at some soccer match in Hampden Park, Glasgow.
They were there, they were heroic, and let's hope they keep trying.
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