By Erin Coulehan, Contributor, DC Music Live
When we last saw Frightened Rabbit it was early autumn and the band was encouraging listeners to shed restrictive clothing and get more comfortable in sweaters. [READ MORE: Frightened Rabbit Rocks Black Cat] The lovelorn and often lugubrious lyrics backed by vocal hubs are completely conducive to a melancholic mindset, but it’s spring now, and with that comes a reawakened sense of life, as well as a new album and tour schedule for the burly Glasgow-based band who stopped by 9:30 Club on April 7.
Pedestrian Verse, the Scotsmen’s fourth studio album released in February, is the band’s first studio LP with major label Atlantic Records. Those familiar with Frightened Rabbit’s corpus have noticed that the album is a bit of a departure from previous projects including The Midnight Organ Fight and The Winter of Mixed Drinks, which showcase lead vocalist Scott Hutchinson’s nearly-constant state of broken heartedness.
“One of the main differences is that we built this album together,” says drummer Grant Hutchinson, who is also Scott’s brother.
Hutchinson said the songwriting process took a bit longer for this album because each member needed to first grow comfortable sharing lyrical and musical composition in the first place (Scott was previously the chief songwriter). The band next sought to cultivate its new dynamic once each musician had figured out his individual role in the group effort.
The result? A fresh collection of songs that each member feels personally attached to, which has also helped expand the band’s audience.
“There’s more bros at the shows now, which is great – that’s exactly what we want,” said Hutchinson, “we want to gain [fans] as much as we can.”
With this latest series of shows, it seems that Frightened Rabbit is poised to continue to earn acclaim from fans both new and old.
At 9:30 Club, the set began with “Holy”, which displays the band’s recognizable sense of self-awareness and knack for storytelling. “While you read to me from the riot act way on high, high/Clutching a crisp New Testament, breathing fire, fire/Will you save me the fake benevolence, I don’t have time/ I’m just too far gone for a-tellin’, lost my pride, I don’t mind/ Being lonely, so leave me alone. Aw, you’re acting all holy/ me, I’m just full of holes,” belted Scott to a sold out crowd. That’s one admirable thing about Hutchinson’s deeply personal lyrics: while many have suffered similar heartbreak, few wear it as proudly.
The set was punctuated with anecdotes told by a playful Scott from stage. “Late March, Death March,” was played especially for Morven Hutchinson, Grant’s three-year old daughter and Scott’s niece.
“Her teacher at preschool asked her favorite song, and she said ‘Death March’ – she’s a Hutchinson alright,” beamed Scott. Morven has cystinosis, a rare metabolic disease, and Frightened Rabbit asks those on the guest list to make contributions which go to a research foundation at each show. During our interview, a proud Grant said that she’s his inspiration each day.
One fan in the crowd named Mike was attending his 25th Frightened Rabbit show, and the band made a point to dedicate a song to him. “It was bit tough picking a song from our catalog for ya, Mike,” laughed Scott after a swig of beer, “this song is for you, but it’s not about you.”
“Fuck This Place,” was the song selected for Mike, and a solo Scott sang it just for him as fans waved lighters and cell phones.
A three song encore summed the evening up nicely, beginning with “The Woodpile” which stood out the most during the set. The relatively uplifting lyrics are a departure as the song suggests a sense of community, whereas others (if not most) Frightened Rabbit songs are soaked with a sense of longing and isolation.
“Will you come back to my corner/ Spent too long alone tonight /Would you come and brighten my corner /A Lit torch to the woodpile,” sang the regularly anguished Scott with a rare vulnerability. The inviting chorus rang like the first day of spring when you realize winter made you forget what it was like to be warm; or that first person to come into your life post-break up and remind you what it’s like not to be alone.
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