Frightened Rabbit could not have been more different from the setting for their acoustic, all-request set at Le Poisson Rouge on Monday night. Le Poisson Rouge’s pricey beverages and bottle service attracted an audience more interested in being seen there than being there, as the sound of chatter rose above both openers, Joe Pug and Gregory & the Hawk. The scene was a stark contrast to the hairy, earnest Scots who took to the stage with plaid shirts and holes in their jeans. But try as they might have, a band as raw and emotional as Frightened Rabbit can’t be talked over.
Front man/songwriter Scott Hutchinson and crew were cheery from the start, which was a request for fan-favorite, “Backwards Walk,” from their second and most recent album, The Midnight Organ Fight. “That’s a poor choice,” Hutchinson jokingly chided before launching into the tune about the inability to stop returning to an ex. The song closes with one of their more memorable lyrics, “You’re the shit / and I’m knee deep in it.” That was all it took for the audience to stop talking.
Jokingly holding up blank set-lists, Hutchinson explained that the idea for the all-request show came along because after 10 months of touring, “We just wanted to do something that was going to be enjoyable.” And enjoy it he did, telling stories about the songs between swigs from a bottle of whiskey. “Everyone thinks it’s about my penis, but it’s not,” he remarked after playing “Snake,” which he elaborated is actually about his plans to surprise a woman in New York City by showing up with nothing but the clothes on his back and a draft snake he’d been keeping for her. As it happened, the girl was “less than thrilled,” so he wrote “I Feel Better” as a sequel, reusing the music from the chorus.
Frightened Rabbit: “Snake” (download)
Frightened Rabbit: “I Feel Better” (download)
The acoustic descriptor was less evident, with guitarists Billy Kennedy and Andy Monaghan using electric guitars and keyboards. Hutchinson went the more classic route, using an acoustic-electric guitar for the set, and jumping over to a piano for “The Twist.” The “acoustic” arrangements slightly diminished the anthemic quality of some of the songs, but allowed for more of a focus on Hutchinson’s voice, which he isn’t afraid to let quiver, distort or crack in the name of poignancy. The already heart-breaking “Poke” was even more affecting as his voice struggled through the closing lines, “And now we’re unrelated and rid of all the shit we hated / but I hate when I feel like this and I never hated you.”
But Frightened Rabbit never let a painful mood carry on for too long. Having played the bulk of their two-album library over the course of the set, for an encore they covered “Set You Free,” by British electro artist N-Trance. Echoing his sentiments from a recent interview with Aversion (“Although I’m dark and pessimistic at times, there really has to be hope, otherwise you might as well jump off the bridge”), Hutchinson ended the evening with a bit of faith as he sang, “Only love can set you free.”
To see more T-Sides pictures from this show, click here. For the setlist and more info, click the jump.
Old Old Fashioned
I Feel Better
Good Arms vs. Bad Arms
Heads Roll Off
Keep Yourself Warm
Be Less Rude
Fake Empire (National Cover) > Christmas Song
Floating in the Fourth
Encore: Set You Free (N-Trance Cover)
Frightened Rabbit Official Site
Frightened Rabbit on MySpace
100 Bands in 100 Days
Feb 6, 2009
I’m glad you had a good time, it sounds awesome, but one thing really stuck out.. people still do bottle service? At an indie rock show? That’s so random, and almost self defeating at the same time…awesome that it was an all request show!
They’re going to be on the new Josh Schwartz/ Alex Patsavas project Rockville, CA (http://www.thewb.com/shows/rockville-ca/), so once that happens I guess you won’t (or will? Depending on the economy…) be seeing them at bottle service only places.
Glad you read you enjoyed them, I’ve been meaning to check them out when they get to L.A.
[Feature] [Watch] [Listen] – Frightened Rabbit – Sing The Greys Sessions « ListenBeforeYouBuy says:
Feb 24, 2010
[…] and audience members heckle the band until they play the song they want to hear) in New York, Scott explained the inspiration behind the song: “Jokingly holding up blank set-lists, Hutchinson explained that the idea for […]
Charles Spearin’s Happiness Project @ Le Poisson Rouge, Sunday, March 15th | T-Sides says:
Mar 19, 2011
[…] The performance was part of the always stellar Wordless Music Series, so two classical groups opened the show. First was the Verge Ensemble, who played Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Tierkreis, a piece consisting of 12 melodies based around the zodiac sign. This autonomous work leaves a lot of room for experimentation – it can be played on any instrument, with most recordings lasting anywhere from 12 to 96 minutes. The Verge Ensemble used two laptops, cello, violin, flute, piano and clarinets. The woodwinds and strings often seemed to be facing off, while the piano was often trilling in and out. The laptops were oddly unnoticeable, or perhaps just hard to hear – the speakers at the venue were frequently hissing and popping during their set. (Yet another frustration with Le Poisson Rouge.) […]