Yeah, I’m chilling with (part of) Frightened Rabbit. No big deal.
It’s midterm season. You may have realized this because of my lack of blog posts; if you follow my Twitter, you’ll have likely discovered the positive correlation between tweets about coffee and tweets about Plato, racial politics, and/or social democratic welfare states. This is a scary part of the semester for students, as all the reading left undone in previous weeks comes back to haunt us like so many scholarly ghosts.
Thankfully, ASUC Superb, UC Berkeley’s campus entertainment organization, gave me something to look forward to. A throng of caffeine-addled students–self very much included–came out to support Scottish rockers Frightened Rabbit this past Monday, as they performed a free(!) show on Berkeley’s outdoor Lower Sproul Plaza.
Frightened Rabbit has been on a steady rise over the months, promoting their critically acclaimed third studio album The Winter of Mixed Drinks. I was fortunate enough to see them in San Luis Obispo, CA at a tiny brewing company in May, five days before their US television debut performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Since then, the band has more than made up for their canceled Coachella gig with extensive touring–from festivals (Glastonbury, Lollapalooza, and more), to larger venues, including the legendary Fillmore in San Francisco (and a secret show at Rickshaw Stop, filmed by Revision3).
Judging by the crowd of extremely enthusiastic students, the band’s work is paying off. They opened their set with second album Midnight Organ Fight‘s “Modern Leper”, and then launched into the first Winter of Mixed Drinks single, “Nothing Like You” (check out the adorable music video). From foot-stomping anthems like “Living In Colour” to heartfelt offerings like “Backwards Walk”, the hour-long gig showcased the band’s unique blend of unbridled energy and frank sincerity. Their ability to affect an audience was nowhere more noticeable than during “Poke”, a simple acoustic account of a relationship’s demise. Lead singer Scott Hutchison’s stirring rendition silenced the crowd–a tricky feat, particularly in the midst of the outdoor campus thoroughfare. Equally chill-inducing was the closer, “The Loneliness and the Scream”, which is the band’s latest single. The song’s video was also released on Monday, exclusively at NME.com. “Loneliness” embodies everything Frightened Rabbit does best: lyrics simultaneously straightforward and poetic, melodies anthemic and gripping. Despite a ‘big’ sound, the band tells beautifully honest and personal stories. Monday’s gig was anything but intimate, but they still managed to draw us in, create a world in which we couldn’t help but move and be moved. As “The Loneliness and the Scream” ended with the crowd’s exuberant rhythmic clapping, it became clear that Frightened Rabbit’s journey upward is just beginning.
Photo courtesy of Superb.