“You all seem to be very happy to be listening to such sad music,” Scott Hutchinson, the lead singer of Frightened Rabbit mentions to the crowd around half way through their live journey through The Midnight Organ Fight. The band has been around for fifteen years, yet this album just reached its ten year mark. Like a lot of 2000’s indie bands, Frightened Rabbit is taking the full album on tour with every date completely sold out. I got to see them at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on their second night in NYC by a strange streak of luck and the kindness of a stranger. I ended up walking into the venue as Frightened Rabbit took the stage.
Unlike a lot of bands on full album tours, Frightened Rabbit opened with a selection of other songs not from TMOF in a way teasing the audience and keeping us on our toes for when the album would begin. And when that moment came, you could feel the audience as one organism. “A cripple walks amongst you all you tired human beings,” the entire crowd begins to sing the opening to “The Modern Leper” and no one is ashamed to sing loudly. It is as if all of us have something to prove with this album and the crowd is almost louder than the band. And for most of the show, the crowd knows every word. Granted, we have all been listening to this album for 10 years.
Hutchinson is kind to note that although they put out the album, the crowd is who propelled it. He mentions that they weren’t paying for big ads and social media wasn’t used in the same way, but it was that the people in the crowd shared it with their friends and made the album the success it has become. It’s interesting to take note in how much the music industry, especially exposure and music distribution has changed. For example, I started listening to this album because I found it at the public library shortly after it was released.
The band is not lost on how dark this album is and they joke about that throughout the night, at one point Hutchinson says, “I hope you all are doing a lot better than you were ten years ago.” He also describes he album as a “thick soup of sadness.” The entire crowd is reliving not only what happened ten years ago, but what happened within the last ten years. We felt all the memories, all the people that made us turn on this album; we recalled all the moments that made us relate to the beautiful lyrics.
One of the lighter moments of the night is after “I Feel Better” which includes the repeating lyric of “this is the last song I’ll write about you.” Hutchinson laughs as the song closes and says, “That definitely was not the last song, if that’s not obvious from the rest of this album.” He hits on the push and pull of the end of the relationship, which is evident on the album as a whole.
What’s magical about a concert like this is you get to watch people feel music. You can see on the faces of the people next you when it’s “that one line that always gets them” or the song that they have been waiting to hear live for years. There’s some camaraderie in these observations as there are songs on this album that are so meaningful that the crowd disappears on those songs and it’s just your experience.
The end of the album is emotionally a heavy hitter. “Poke” had the whole crowd heavy with emotion from people’s inhales to people wiping tears. Then Hutchinson mentions that he would never play the next two songs together at a show except that they’re on the album together. This makes sense as he leads into a heavy track about suicide, “Floating in the Forth”. Finishing out on an acoustic note, the one minute song “Who’d You Kill Now?” does not lighten the mood.
At this point, I feel like my heart is spread out in different parts of the room and as if I need to figure out how to put myself back together again. Most of the crowd seems to be experience the same kind of detachment. The show was intense, beautiful and introspective. Knowing they are responsible for this emotional mayhem, Frightened Rabbit takes the stage for an extended encore. They play happier tunes that let’s everybody put themselves back together and dance around with Wintersleep, their opener, joining them on the last song. The show was exhilarating, and while it felt like ten years the show only lasted an hour and half. More than anything, you can feel that they are as grateful for this experience as the crowd is.