Some places have such a profound effect on their musical inhabitants that there’s no stopping the influence from infusing everything they do. It’s evident in Iceland, with Sigur Ros and Bjork, the magical offspring of that country’s otherworldly atmosphere. It’s apparent from the confines of Brooklyn’s crowded streets, where bands pop up and propagate, fueling the fire of the current indie rock scene as needed every few months or years. And it’s inherent in the UK, where Brit-pop has woven its tales of the everyman for 40 years from the Beatles to where we are today.
And where’s that? It was at the Showbox in downtown Seattle, WA, watching Frightened Rabbit carry the torch quite successfully where the other Scottish bands before them have handed it off. They aren’t a band trying to reinvent music, but in not claiming to, they release themselves from that pressure. Instead, with their new album, Pedestrian Verse in tow, they rifled through many of the new tunes and much of their older material, each anthemic chorus leading perfectly into the next as the crowd gained momentum.
Fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarist Scott Hutchison, Frightened Rabbit became a formidable wall of guitars (up to five at any one time). At times they charged guitars blazing ("Acts of Man’s" surprisingly full throttle live ending) and tey attacked with melodies that burrow deep in the skull of even the most skeptical amongst the crowd (see "Backyard Skulls", "Living In Colour", or just about any of the other songs in their arsenal). Then just as quickly they’d be down to just Hutchison’s acoustic guitar and Scottish sincerity ("Poke"), bringing the audience along over the peaks and through the valleys of his own relationships, he questioned love and death, humanity, and the sometimes mundane details of everyday life.
While most of the set was tight, a few of the new songs had slightly noticeable moments where the sheen hasn’t yet been worn in by enough shows on the road when sandwiched between, say, the near perfect stabs of "December’s Traditions". If anyone in the audience minded (or even much noticed), it didn’t seem to matter. Crowd participation only swelled as the evening went on, fueling an impromptu extra encore song of much requested "The Twist" before they finally left the stage, glasses raised as if bidding farewell to friends they’d just poured their hearts out to in a highlands pub. Perhaps the weather similarities between Scotland and the Pacific Northwest made it easy for the band to get comfortable, but this night was triumphant for both band and audience.