My concert going has declined quite a lot over the past few years (chalk it up to having kids and a job that requires me to be coherent at 7am each day) so when I get a chance to go see a show it takes on a near mythic place in my calendar. So it should come as no suprise that I had been looking forward to seeing FRIGHTENED RABBIT for awhile. So when the wife and I ventured into downtown LA it was with a sense of nostalgia for lost youth and excitement that can only come from a dingy club with overpriced drinks and poor sound and light quality. So it no particular order here some observations:
1) Let's get this out of the way; Frightened Rabbit is a GREAT live band. The band has a clean sound that translate well live and enough energy to light three small states.
2) "My Backwards Walk" had a power live that cannot be matched on record. It's a good song on CD; a moment of transcendent bliss live. The addition of a building drum cadence gives it a majesty befitting of a brilliant live act.
3) The new song they played, a rocking tune entitled "Nothing Like You" signals that the band will continue their progression to a more mainstream sound with the next record. For some this is a bad thing, but in this case it suites them. Besides, it's not like they will write songs without profanity.
4) WE WERE PROMISED JETPACKS was up to the task as an opening act. We arrived a bit late but caught enough of their set to judge them worthy of watching. They have a power live that is very intriguing. When their songwriting catches up they will be very good.
5) THE TWILIGHT SAD were less than exciting. I wanted to like them but for some reason I found myself disinterested. Even a day later I can't put my finger on it. Maybe it was just an off night at the end of a long tour.
6) Strange story #1: Rainn Wilson (of THE OFFICE) was there last night. Instead of an Emmy after party he came to this show. Now that's indie cred...
7) Back to The Rabbit: "Poke" should have always been a solo acoustic song. Some songs just work better that way and this is one of them.
8) The only real misfire in the set was a less than enthusiastic rendition of "Heads Roll Off". Again, I chalk it up to the end of the tour and the 10,000 playing of the song. Still it was a little disappointing.
9) Strange Story #2: So about three songs in the light board starts to short out. So the light guy decides to fix it in the middle of the set. First there is a loud whirring sound followed by blasts of air into the board. At one point Scott made mention of it as a distraction. We up in balcony area are getting the brunt of the noise, so a guy goes over and asked the light guy to knock it off. The light guy yells at the other guy and then follows him back behind us and gets in his face. Fast forward to the end of the night. We are all filing out and sure enough there is surly Light Guy waiting. He follows the other guy to the door and yells at him challenging him to a fight. Seriously, we didn't come to see your dazzling light displays man, so calm down. It was surreal...
10) At the end of the night, during the finale of "Keep Yourself Warm", I thought to myself, I don't want this to end. I don't mind the oppressive heat, the $3 water bought at Costco for quarter a case, the couple who thought "Good Arms vs. Bad Arms" was a love song and set out to prove it right there, the creaky floor, the sweaty six foot five guy next to me... And I didn't care. I was lost in the sound. The glorious convergence of music, lyric and emotion that can only come from witnessing a band play live. You can listen to a song a thousand times and still it will be better live. I can't explain it, it just is.
I spent the day today replaying the set list song by song. It's a pale subsitute for the real think but it allows me to recapture that feeling for just a moment. And that will have to do...until I see them again.