Live Review: Frightened Rabbit at 40 Watt Club

Photo Credit: Adam Barnett

After finishing work at 10 p.m. and biking 3.5 miles fast enough to where I could hear my calves scream, I finally made it to the 40 Watt. Frightened Rabbit’s breakout single “Modern Leper,” off the band’s album Midnight Organ Flight, rang out all the way down Pulaski Street, and a friendly doorman assured me that this was only the band’s second song. So, I proceeded into the venue to fully encounter the Scottish indie-rockers and a half-full (but densely packed) hall of ecstatic fans.

Since I first downloaded the band’s first two records to my Zune in 2008, I could never determine what differentiated Frightened Rabbit from all the other pop-rock in the industry. What drew so many people to songs that could all serve as themes to the big climax-endings of so many indie romantic comedies?

For one, the subtlety of frontman Scott Hutchison’s accent is comparable to him holding bagpipes and wearing a kilt; he doesn’t hide his dialect, which in turn acts as an instrument in its own right, emphasized further last night when he rolled his Rs expressing his “deep love affair with ‘Game of Thrones’.”

The raised, slowly swaying hands of the crowd, paired with the light shows and the huge emotional anthems, may have otherwise indicated a Christ-rock concert. Fans often attempted to clap along to the rhythm at incredibly inappropriate moments, notably during a solo acoustic performance of the 3/4 diddy “Fuck This Place.”

To the delight of almost everyone in the room, Hutchison encouraged the crowd to pack closer to the stage so he could perform “Poke” sans amplification, “the way it’s intended to be played.” The song sounded great; the singer’s “oohs” and sprinkled melodic improvisation created an emotional peak to the set.

The crowd singalong, however, did not sound so great, masking Hutchison’s efforts and leading him to stop in the middle of the song to say, “It’s weird hearing it in an American accent.” But he continued, and most of the audience dropped out by the second verse.

When a band travels all the way from Scotland to a faraway minor city, it’s good to see a receptive audience become so invested in a concert. Frightened Rabbit acknowledged this enthusiasm, often admitting Athens was the best stop on the tour so far, despite it being a Wednesday night, resulting in a high-energy and well-played set that lasted well over an hour and a half.

This begs the question: Will these people all be awake enough to go see Aaron Carter at The Melting Point tonight?