Monday, September 28, 2009

Concert Review: The U.K. Rocks the States: Frightened Rabbit and We Were Promised Jetpacks (A)

Last night I was able to catch two of Scotland's (and possibly Europe's) best indie bands: We Were Promised and Frightened Rabbit. I also got to catch The Twilight Sad. Since I don't like to criticize bands too much, I'll just say The Twilight Sad wasn't my style.

Fortunately, We Were Promised Jetpacks and Frightened Rabbit put on two shows that more than made up for it. Frightened Rabbit has been around 5+ years, making huge waves with their critically acclaimed 2008 album The Midnight Organ Fight. We Were Promised Jetpacks emerged this past summer after releasing one of my favorite summer albums-- These Four Walls. WWPJ cites Frightened Rabbit as a major influence, even thanking them personally in their liner notes. While overarching similarities between their sound are clear, but the band's live performances were quite different.

WWPJ's live show was high energy from the first song to the last. Frontman Adam Thompson was constantly jacked up-- frequently having to back up a safe distance before sing/yelling into the mic. Once they finished up, I was sure that the best band was the opening act, but I was definitely wrong.

Frightened Rabbit kicked it off with "The Modern Leper," probably one of their most popular upbeat songs. The crowd knew most of the lyrics and they got even more excited than with WWPJ. What really set Frightened Rabbit apart, however, was their ability to maneuver and craft a great setlist. Like a good mixtape that ebbs and flows, they executed the slow songs and fast songs brilliantly. I think they actually ruined the album version of my favorite track, My Backwards Walk, because their live version was so strong. Like the album version, it was vocally soft and slow, but with added synthesizer and four to the floor drum kicks.

Without going into too much detail-- I'll just say they also had one of the best encores I've ever seen. The band's main performance ended with Grant Hutchinson rocking out to a 2-3 minute drum solo. Instead of reemerging full throttle, frontman Scott Hutchinson came out alone, without a mic or plug in for his guitar. Everyone pushed towards the stage as he sang a completely un-amplified version of "Poke"... which sounds like an old Scottish lullaby (posted below). You could literally hear a pin drop, until the spontaneous humming of the crowd filled in the background to the song. Truly indescribable stuff.

Oh yea... then they reminded us they could jam out, and ended with "Keep Yourself Warm."

Enjoy some of these songs.
We Were Promised Jetpacks - It's Thunder and It's Lightening
Frightened Rabbit - The Modern Leper (Live)
Frightened Rabbit - Poke (Live Daytrotter Session)

Buy WWPJ's album here.
Buy Frightened Rabbits' album here.

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