Frightened Rabbit – Music Hall of Williamsburg – February 24, 2018
Photos courtesy of Silvia Saponaro | www.saponarophotography.com
After their first LP, Sing the Greys, didn’t make a lot of noise, Frightened Rabbit’s breakthrough release, The Midnight Organ Fight, arrived a decade ago as a low-key masterpiece of a breakup album. Without any marketing push, its tales of love lost, failure and self-loathing slowly spread by word-of-mouth. Each song a lonely, emotional gut punch that doubles as a catchy, danceable earworm. The raw, vulnerable words sound so intimate through headphones in a solitary listen but when heard live bloom into a big communal catharsis amidst a flurry of guitars and onlookers belting out dark lyrics—like “I think I’ll save suicide for another day” or “It takes more than fucking someone you don’t know to keep warm”—like they’re the only ones in the room.
Celebrating The Midnight Organ Fight’s 10th anniversary, the Scottish five-piece—Scott Hutchison (vocals and guitar), Grant Hutchison (drums and vocals), Billy Kennedy (bass, keys and vocals), Andy Monaghan (guitar and keys) and Simon Liddell (guitar and keys)—rolled into Brooklyn on Saturday to perform it in order. But first they did four songs from other albums, including The Winter of Mixed Drinks’ “Swim Until You Can’t See Land,” which earned the night’s first hoots and hollers. The loud crowd eagerly sang along to Organ Fight’s opener, “Modern Leper,” drinks held aloft at “You must be a masochist.” The affable frontman’s Glaswegian-accented banter had everyone listening with rapt attention between songs, and at times he conducted the crowd with his hand and guitar. “You guys are fucking great. Thank you for this. It’s amazing how happy a sad album can make you,” he said, laughingly adding, “but to each their own.”
After spirited takes on “My Backwards Walk” and “Keep Yourself Warm,” plus the album’s second short instrumental, “Extrasupervery,” done in darkness onstage, the singer did a solo take on the evocative “Poke” with everyone in the room singing at full volume. The full band returned for “Floating in the Forth” and “Who’d You Kill Now?”—“In a normal live show we wouldn’t be so stupid as to put these songs together,” said Scott—to finish The Midnight Organ Fight. After a short break, they returned for a three-song encore, capped off by The Winter of Mixed Drinks’ “The Loneliness and the Scream” and its stomping, clapping, sing-along finale. It was the kind of shared personal experience you hope for every time you leave the house to see a band. —R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog