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Frightened Rabbit Brings Scottish Indie Rock To Anaheim

Elizabeth Johnson |
October 16, 2010 | 5:26 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Photo by Elizabeth Johnson
Photo by Elizabeth Johnson
It’s always a treat to catch a great band before they get too big for intimate shows. As Scottish indie rockers Frightened Rabbit gain momentum with their latest release, “The Winter of Mixed Drinks,” it is likely that their next tour of the States will be much larger.

Friday night, Frightened Rabbit seduced new listeners and long-time fans at the Anaheim House of Blues. Although the band played the Mayan Theater on Wednesday, this show was well worth the drive to Anaheim for cheaper tickets as well as convenient, free parking in the Disneyland lot.

The show opened with performances by Bad Veins and Plants and Animals, who were not solid live. While it is convenient, a chorus of “la la la la la” or, in another example, “whoa–oh–oh–oh,” does not constitute a legitimate song, especially when backed by weak vocals.

But Frightened Rabbit pulled material from all three of their studio albums, opening with a solid rendition of “Things,” a song that denounces materialism without getting preachy.

Lead singer and rhythm guitarist Scott Hutchinson’s lyricism shone through even more live. Passionately narrating tales of new lovers and letting go of the past, Hutchinson has a knack for storytelling. He describes “The Wrestle” as being either about fighting a shark, or getting drunk and sleeping with someone.

Live, the band could have taken a turn for the depressing. Many songs from their sophomore release, “The Midnight Organ Fight,” chronicle Hutchinson’s bad break-up, and there is a distinctive sense of sadness to the album. However, the band balanced these dark favorites with newer songs, like “Nothing Like You,” and “Living in Colour,” which feature buoyant tempos and upbeat percussion.

The best part of Frightened Rabbit’s live performance was seeing how seamlessly the five musicians worked together. The guitarist would switch to playing one-handed harmonica while simultaneously pounding on the keyboard, and the bass player brought out a standing cymbal for one song as well as switching to keyboard. All four musicians sang harmonies behind Hutchinson, but avoided sounding inconsistent with his solo sound.

For the encore, Hutchinson played a solo unplugged rendition of “Poke” that showcased his distinctive vocal style. Afterwards, the other band members came back onstage for a unique variation on “The Twist.”

As the musicians exited the stage, jauntily tipping their beers goodbye to the audience, it was clear that the crowd had been won over by Frightened Rabbit. The band's nonchalance, paired with undeniable musical prowess, made for an endearing performance.


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