I tasked myself with writing a concert review for last night’s Frightened Rabbit show at Terminal 5 in NYC. I did this for three reasons: 1) I like the music of Frightened Rabbit 2) I am a writer who loves and plays music and therefore it seems like I should be somebody who writes the occasional concert review 3) I’m a contributor and “General Web Helper” (official title) for this site, Fugitive Sounds. The way I saw it, there was really no excuse not to write this review. It was necessary. Possibly of paramount importance. Potentially cardinal. Indeed, if I were to not write this review, it might have calamitous, if not apocalyptic, consequences.
Conclusion: The world needed it.
And listen, who am I to deprive the world of anything?
Most of my writing is confessional in nature. Also, I would argue much of Frightened Rabbit’s music—Scott Hutchison’s lyrics—have an element of confession in them. So it seems appropriate and consistent and good to maintain that spirit here. We should always begin with what we know.
So here’s the confession: I very rarely read concert reviews myself. Even if I like the writer. Even if I like the band. To me, a concert review is just a very poor substitute for physically being at a concert. And if the concert was good, it just makes me feel angry for missing it. If the concert was bad, well, I mean, is there really much of a point to writing (or reading) a bad concert review?
But as I have already established, most writers of concert reviews probably have not been virtually ordained to write their concert reviews. This is a sad reality, and a shortcoming which is no fault of the writer. I do not judge them for it. There is simply no accounting for the logic of ordainment. Or of facts.
Which brings me to the review itself. In reflecting upon the nature of the “concert review” I felt as though—no, it came to me in a vision—that facts were of prime importance. Second to that, was documentation, in the form of photos and videos. And, thirdly, subjectivity: the impressions the concert left upon me. If you want to cut straight to the photos and videos, you can, of course, just scroll to the bottom. I would not hold it against you if you did that. If you’re interested in other facts, like the set list, I included one of those, just above the photo/video section. But if you’re interested in my subjective impressions, including the general vibe of the show—and let’s not be coy about it: you are—then please read on.
Frightened Rabbit is truly the “people’s band.” They have a very active and social Twitter feed which I would recommend following. Their Twitter (@FRabbits) does what good Twittering should: it feels like a conversation. Last night’s show at Terminal 5 felt the same way. Scott Hutchison paused between songs to talk and crack jokes with the audience. While this seems like a no-brainer for a performer to do, I’ve actually been to a few shows, one quite recently, where all engagement with the audience was completely absent.
Scott talked about his young niece who, when asked what song she would like to hear, responded not with Old MacDonald or Farmer in the Dell or anything like that but an FR song called “Late March, Death March.” That was good for some laughter.
He also joked about paying the opening band, a Canadian group called Wintersleep—who, I should add, gave a very rousing and solid opening performance—with one of his “famous hand jobs.” Then holding up his hands, emphasized: “these soft, soft hands.”
Later, Scott strummed a G chord and got the audience to participate in acting as a “giant accordian” by instructing us all to hum the G note as a way to introduce the wildly popular song, “Swim Until You Can’t See Land.”
“You’re the largest, so you should be the loudest!” He shouted, referring to the fact, as he did several times that night, that this Terminal 5 NYC audience comprised the biggest audience of any Frightened Rabbit show to date. I’m sure we eventually will be removed of that honor, but for now it feels good to have been a part of it.
The audience was very much engaged and there were virtually no early departers from this show that I could tell. At no point did the room feel more connected, however, than during the final song, “The Loneliness and the Scream,” when the entire venue clapped and sang the final cry of that song in unison.
That song was the third part of their three-song encore. The audience continued to mull around and chant the final cry and clap even after the band walked off stage, hoping they would come out for one more song. It appeared as though they would because the house music didn’t start up immediately. But after about 3-4 minutes, house music played, and people began shuffling out.
Now let’s get to the nitty gritty: The Set List.
Here it is in full:
- The Modern Leper
- Old Old Fashioned
- Late March, Death March
- December’s Traditions’
- Nothing Like You
- Backyard Skulls
- Head Rolls Off
- Oil Slick
- Backwards Walk
- State Hospital
- Poke (Scott Solo)
- Good Arms vs Bad Arms
- Swim Until You Can’t See Land
- Acts of Man
- Encore 1: The Woodpile
- Encore 2: Living in Color
- Encore 3: The Loneliness and the Scream
Nearly half the songs in the set list were from their latest album, Pedestrian Verse, which came out in February. The emphasis on that album is as it should be since it is extremely good. My only disappointement was that they did not play “Dead Now,” which is my favorite song off that new album.
I also would have liked to have heard them play these older songs: “The Twist,” “Square 9,” or “Not Miserable.” But it’s okay. Really. I don’t hold it against them.
How could they have known I would have been ordained to write this review?
Now I’ll end with the important stuff. Two more photos, and a video of the band playing “Old Old Fashioned.” I hope you enjoy. They are playing Philadelphia and Washington, DC this weekend. If you can, try to catch them!
Frightened Rabbit, “Old Old Fashioned,” Terminal 5, NYC