Review: Stephanie Garber
Photos: Kimberly Rottmayer
Interview: Piper (Kids Interview Bands)
It was a vibe of sheer giddiness that filled the Newport as Frightened Rabbit’s devoted followers crammed the pit Monday night. People were fairly frolicking in their anticipation for the Scottish electro-folk-rock five-piece to make their arrival onstage.
Known for lyrical emotional highs and lows and painting a gloomy landscape, the upbeat crowd (and sound) was juxtaposed throughout the night; songs with sparse, staccato beats you could sway and sing along to contrasting with the well-known, cathartic Frightened Rabbit lamentations. A deep, violet-blue stage washed the band with darkness as the pulsating electronic opening notes of “Get Out” sprung to life – (as did the crowd), then swelling into Pedestrian Verse’s well-loved “Holy” as the driving guitar surged under singer Scott Hutchison’s blunt admission: “I don’t mind being lonely, so leave me alone.”
Known for his self-deprecating chatter, Hutchinson didn’t disappoint, right off the bat stating to the crowd: “I’ve got this feckin’ sore throat, and I’ve just been drinking these shitty teas all day. That’s no fun.” (Later, as the sound of his teeth hitting the mic rang out, he had a good chuckle over that as well: “I just hit my feckin’ teeth with this microphone, what’s that about?”)
From rhythmic shuffles to emotional swells of sound, they covered a wide sprinkling of songs from their catalog. The plaintive lyrics and mesmerizing sadness of “I Wish I was Sober” sounded like a heartbroken confession: “Wrapped my hand around the glass again; forgive me, I can’t speak straight”: conveying honesty as if we were reading a page out of his diary; yet still making you want to bounce up and down in obnoxious joy: “Come and shake me till I’m dry!” Okay, we will!
For the encore, Scott then returned to his old comedic tricks again, toying with the crowd and jokingly threatening not to play fan favorite “The Woodpile” if a rowdy fan didn’t behave – stringing us along a bit before acquiescing, causing another roar of elation.
With their tight rhythms and plaintive harmonies, Frightened Rabbit has that casually polished air of a band that’s played for a long time together – with a close-knit approachability that made it easy to believe we were sitting in a corner pub singing along and sobbing into our pints. Frightened Rabbit strikes a magical balance between despair and poetic joyfulness, ranging from stomping hand clappers like “Living in Colour” to the darker turn of “Lump Street”, with its soaring falsetto melody and foreboding electronic undercurrents. Darkly cerebral and brooding while pivoting into the upbeat, they really live in a place all of their own – where the rambunctious despair of the Scots live, perhaps.
(Before the show, Piper from Kids Interview Bands had a chance to spend a few minutes chatting with Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison.)