"Remember it was me who dragged you up to the sweaty floor"

Last year Frightened Rabbit (myspace) kind of appeared on my radar from out of nowhere with The Midnight Organ Fight, an album I loved instantly and which landed in my top ten of the year. When I heard they were coming to town I thought I’d better get on it, Ticketmaster service charges be damned.

And so it was that last night Joe, Sheila, Nellie and I went to see them at the Horseshoe, stopping first for dinner at the Adelaide St. Pub…which isn’t quite a pub, but whatever. It’s a decent spot that serves decent beer in the decidedly indecent entertainment district, and such things are not to be taken for granted, especially when they have a decent patio.

We missed the first opener entirely (almost as if we planned it that way) and arrived just as The Antlers (myspace) took the stage. I was actually pretty impressed, enough so that I came home and downloaded their newest album from eMusic. I have to say, though, they’re a band that sounds very different live than they do in the studio. Watching them live I thought they were about 70% Walkmen, 20% Wolf Parade, 5% Jeff Buckley‘s voice and 5% bombast from This Will Destroy You or Explosions In The Sky…certainly a winning combination for yours truly. Listening to their music right now, though, it sounds nothing like that. It’s over-engineered, over produced. The singer’s voice loses all emotion and the drums might as well not even be there. It’s too bad…I really enjoyed their set, and was hoping it would translate off-stage. It’s not bad, mind you, just less impressive than I found them last night.

A few minutes later Frightened Rabbit was up to do their thing, and it was just what everyone wanted. They blasted through just about all the songs on Midnight Organ Fight (except “Floating In The Forth”, dammit) and a few from their debut (“Mu! Sic! Now!”), then came back out for an encore, which was pretty cool: first Scott Hutchinson led a singalong of “Poke” without a mic, and then did a blazing “Keep Yourself Warm” to end the night. They seemed to enjoy it, the crowd loved it. We loved it too. $16 well spent.

A few miscellaneous observations:

  • The bouncer dug my The Suburbs Are Killing Us tshirt.
  • My hearing is just now returning to normal. We were a little close to one of the speakers. They’re no Mogwai, but locations counts for a lot in a place like the ‘Shoe.
  • It seems wrong, somehow, that the Horseshoe would carry Mill Street Organic beer.

Musical inbox

Here’s what’s on deck for me right now:

  • bonnie prince billy . lie down in the light
  • bowerbirds . hymn for a dark horse
  • calm blue sea . the calm blue sea
  • cold war kids . loyalty to loyalty
  • damien jurado . caught in the trees
  • dears . missiles
  • deerhunter . microcastle
  • eels . electro-shock blues
  • fembots . calling out
  • frightened rabbit . sing the greys
  • spiritualized . songs in a & e
  • tallest man on earth . shallow graves
  • new year . the new year
  • thievery corporation . radio retaliation
  • tindersticks . the hungry saw
  • walkmen . you & me

Now…to find the time to listen to them.

News flash: area introvert craves more emotional attachment

While I sat at Fran’s eating breakfast I read a few pages of Catherine Gildener‘s Too Close To The Falls. After a few pages a woman, maybe a few years younger than me, who’d been sitting across from me with (I assume) her boyfriend/husband, came over to my table. She told me she’d read the book and loved it, but had never seen anyone else reading it before. I told her I couldn’t take credit for unearthing the obscure find, that it had been recommended by my writing instructor Michelle Berry years before (who I believe had reviewed it for the Globe) and after keeping it on my shelf for six winters I was finally getting around to it. We talked about the fantastic stories Gildener told of her childhood, and wondered how such tales could be real. She apologized for interrupting my breakfast, told me she hoped I would enjoy the rest of the book as much she did, and went back to her table.

This, to me, is the real benefit of the paper book. I see no advantage to the convenience of the medium, compared to an e-book or reading online, but what I’ve found is that people will often come over and talk to me about a book, because they see it as a shared emotional experience. Normally, as an introvert, strange people striking up conversations with me is akin to getting mugged, but in these cases the conversation is about the book, not about me or them, so I don’t mind.

In fact, I wish there was an equivalent for music. Each day on my way to and from work I see hundreds of people with headphones snaking out of their bags and pockets and I wonder what they’re listening to. I assume they’re all listening to the same formulaic, familiar music that infects radio and most iPods, but what about the exceptions? For every Rainer Maria Rilke you spot in a sea of John Grisham and Deepak Chopra there must be a similar musical outsider. How great would it be to see that the baby boomer in a golf shirt is listening to the new Frightened Rabbit? Or that the punk girl carrying a skateboard is listening to Blind Willie Johnson? Or that the accountant with the CostCo briefcase is listening to T-Rex? I feel like every day I’m missing a dozen shared emotional experiences contained in pairs of headphone wires.

[tags]catherine gildener, michelle berry, rainer maria rilke, frightened rabbit, blind willie johnson, t-rex[/tags]

"Take your life, give it a shake"

I cannot stop listening to “Floating In The Forth” by Frightened Rabbit. It’s just the kind of lovely, warming song (odd, because it’s kind of about suicide) that makes me want to cry and smile and quit my job and sell everything I own and lie in a field with headphones and sun and listen to it over and over and over again.

I know, because of the way I consume music, that by next week I’ll have moved on to something else. But I’ll come back. And, right now, it’s perfect.

[tags]frightened rabbit, floating in the forth[/tags]


Love affair of the day: The Midnight Organ Fight, the latest album from Frightened Rabbit. I loved this one right from the jump, right from song one. And when song one has a title like “The Modern Leper” and it still hooks you, you know it’s good. Go, find. It’s on eMusic, I’m sure it’s on iTunes as well.

[tags]frightened rabbit, the midnight organ fight[/tags]