Live Review: Frightened Rabbit; words, music, art @ Pulp tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 5:44 pm June 16, 2008

There’s something about Scottish and Irish bands… whether you’re talking about a more straightforward rock act like U2 or a Celtic-leaning band like The Waterboys, something rooted in their heritage always manages to bubble up in their music no matter how hard they rock. It’s subtle, but it’s always there. Maybe it’s the brogue, but I think it has more to do with a natural sensibility toward green-hilled melodies. Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison certainly has an unmistakable, charming brogue, which became more pronounced as the band’s set wore on Saturday night at The Waiting Room.

Opening was Mal Madrigal. Actually, Techlepathy was up first, but I missed them, just as I missed the first half of MM’s set. Steve Bartolomei and Co. sounded their usual folk-rocking self, though they ended their set with a couple South o’ the Border-flavored numbers that took Bartolomei’s melodies to a whole different (and amazing) place. Maybe they should try an entire album of Latin-flavored music.

Sub Pop trio Oxford Collapse came on next and sounded like someone from that label circa the late ’90s — solid bass-driven college rock that sort of reminded me of Minutemen, though they weren’t nearly as heavy.

Frightened Rabbit hit the stage at around 11:30. Their music floats closer to mainstream rock than indie, again probably because of their Scottish heritage. While ringing and loud, there were moments that weren’t far removed from, say, Counting Crows. But there also was a rootsy, faraway quality that I recognized from other bands that have called the northern British Isles their homes — a lonely, heart-aching sound that burns through no matter how loud the guitars are turned up. Part of it is the rapid, rhythmic strumming. Part of it is Hutchison’s rich, throaty voice that would sound at home belting out an Irish (or Scottish) folk ballad (just add fiddle). Great stuff enjoyed by a crowd of around 70 (by my estimate).

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Blogger Annie Dilocker mentioned yesterday that there’s a special event going on tonight at Pulp in Benson. Called “Runaways,” the event features local writers reading their essays about music, with musicians performing in between readings. Hand-made journals designed by local artists will be auctioned off (silently). Writers include Katie Wudel, Christin Goetz and Dilocker herself. Musician participants include Sam Martin (Capgun Coup), Bear Country, Honeybee and Oui Bandits. Artists include Joey Lynch, Tony Bonacci and Jill Rizzo. The free event (which free wine and beer) starts at 7. Find out more.

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