|The giveaway poster for March 11, 2013|
Today, we compare Scotland’s Frightened Rabbit to American beer. When a person begins drinking beer, the thought is often, “What do people see in this stuff? It’s bitter, not smooth or pleasant tasting.” But with even semi-regular sampling, the drink can quickly move through the category of “palatable” to one of “preferred alcoholic beverage.”
This is similar to the acquired taste for Frightened Rabbit in the U.S. Certainly, for us it was not an instant appreciation of their music. The first sampling of Frightened Rabbit did not create the appreciation that is the signature of a live performance by the band. But the appreciation of the band’s sound as a function of listening time has a steep slope. The band more than hints that we are in good company, because a U.S. concert crowd is asked to voice an apathetic “Ho Hum” to mimic the reception they received earlier in the tour when they started playing tracks from the album that wasn’t released until February.
Last night (March 11), Frightened Rabbit returned to the Fillmore in San Francisco. They lived up to expectations. And they brought their full array of guitars. At times, FIVE GUITARS WERE IN FULL FORCE. Since 2011, the concert trend has been to allow band members to join in the percussion at various times, so that two, three or four people are keeping rhythm at a given time (as a good example, Foster the People centrally locates a drum on stage and different members of the band use that drum). Without question, it can be crowd-pleasing. But Frightened Rabbit went the opposite direction last night. Band members would leave their guitars for keyboards or added percussion, but with the appearance of wanting to return to the guitar as quickly as possible. And it was crowd-pleasing!
Frightened Rabbit is comprised of Scott Hutchison, Gordon Skene, Andy Monaghan, Grant Hutchison, and Billy Kennedy. The picture shows Hutchison, who is accomplished in engaging with the audience, even when harassing someone for requesting a song the band did not intend to play. Our best recollection of the setlist is included below. They were joined by a sixth member at times, but we can’t identify him. In keeping with one of the Fillmore traditions, a poster was distributed after the sellout show. A picture of the giveaway is at the top of this post.
2. The Modern Leper
3. Old, Old Fashioned
4. Late March, Death March
5. The Twist
6. December's Traditions
7. Nothing Like You
8. Backyard Skulls
9. Head Rolls Off
10. The Oil Slick
11. Backwards Walk
12. State Hospital
14. Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms
15. Swim Until You Can't See Land
16. Acts of Man
1. The Woodpile
2. Living in Colour
3. The Loneliness and the Scream
The opening band was a scaled back version of Twilight Sad. Like Frightened Rabbit, we had seen Twilight Sad in 2012 (but at the Blank Club in San Jose). The voice and personality of James Graham carried the performance. No disrespect to the guitar and keys player who joined Graham, but unlike the San Jose performance it seemed that there was no reason to divert your eyes from Graham during the set. But Friday, Twilight Sad is headlining at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco. The experience in the smaller venue may be very different.
The email we received from Twilight Sad about yesterday’s show explained:
"Just a wee reminder that we will be supporting our good friends Frightened Rabbit on their West Coast dates in North America. During a night in the pub with FR we both agreed we'd love to tour with each other again and they suggested we come do some shows with them as a stripped back 3-piece which they have seen us do back home in Scotland many times before. We agreed, so that's what we're doing. These stripped back shows will give people in North America the opportunity to see the band in a different way. We're hoping it will showcase how important our songwriting process is and having a good song to begin with before adding the production is to our band. we'll also be playing a couple of headline shows in San Francisco and Santa Cruz which we're very much looking forward to" - James