There’s something about musicians from Scotland, even just from the far north of England, that makes them able to play really sad music, while also being really funny in the banter in between songs. Perhaps it’s the weather, gloomy cold outdoors that also brings them to huddle around for a joke & a pint. Perhaps it’s being in the shadow of England/London/Westminster to the south, a tiring elite that is also ripe for mockery. Perhaps it’s the accent(s). Whatever it is, Frightened Rabbit have it in spades, as displayed at their big show at New York’s Terminal 5 (QRO venue review) on Thursday, May 5th.
The Souters (the nickname of people from their hometown of Selkirk) came to New York behind their new album, Painting of a Panic Attack (QRO review), yet it did not dominate the set list, which was instead nicely mixed between that, 2013’s Pedestrian Verse (QRO review), 2010’s The Winter of Mixed Drinks (QRO review), and 2008’s The Midnight Organ Fight – they notably did not play anything from 2006 debut Sing the Greys, despite a fan asking if they still knew how to play its “Behave!”; singer Scott Hutchison in response stated that most people there that night thought Midnight was their first record. Later, after thanking opener Caveman (QRO photos), he told people to buy that band’s new record (Otero War, which actually comes out next month), or buy Greys, even though it wasn’t that good. A fan called it “charming,” with which Hutchison replied, “‘Charming’ doesn’t mean good…”
Frightened Rabbit playing “The Modern Leper” live at Terminal 5 in New York, NY on May 5th, 2016:
Hutchison’s often self-deprecating humor was on display between many tragic songs. When someone in the audience demanded a rare b-side before a powerful rendition of Midnight’s breakthrough “The Modern Leper”, Hutchison mentioned how the band can’t play every song that they’ve ever done as it would take six hours (“I don’t have the fucking drugs Bruce Springsteen’s on … I just have the normal fucking drugs”), and how American it was to want everything – Scottish audiences would expect not to hear the songs they wanted. Before the somber “Woke Up Hurting”, he mentioned that it was from the new album, but when a fan called Panic a 10, Hutchison said it wasn’t that good. Before a rare performance of Winter’s “Things”, the singer joked about not liking that record, but recently reevaluated it, “There’s some good stuff here.” And well into the set, a fan demanded a sad song (“At this time of the night, you want to be more sad?!?”), with which Hutchison stated that one could count their happy songs on one finger, and the next song was it – though Midnight’s “Old Old Fashioned” is still pretty down for a “happy song.”
Frightened Rabbit playing “Old Old Fashioned” live at Terminal 5 in New York, NY on May 5th, 2016:
Frightened Rabbit playing “I Wish I Was Sober” live at Terminal 5 in New York, NY on May 5th, 2016:
Other highlights included the night’s opener, Panic’s “Get Out”, and the following “Holy” from Pedestrian Verse, the new & tragically almost-always appropriate “I Wish I Was Sober”, going into the encore break’s Midnight classic “Keep Yourself Warm”, and the encore return of Hutchison solo on Panic’s “Die Like a Rich Boy”. Other choice lines from the singer in response to the crowd included telling people to leaves their comments in the comment box by the door (mentioned early on; didn’t work…), mentioning a sign he made for “Emily & her man” who were getting married (though it didn’t actually ‘get them married’), explaining what a set list was in the face of all the requests, and finally, “You’re Scottish and I can’t understand a fucking word you’re saying…”
Frightened Rabbit playing “Keep Yourself Warm” live at Terminal 5 in New York, NY on May 5th, 2016:
Who knows what it is that makes musicians from north of Britain so sad and yet so funny (even on Cinco de Mayo, the most un-Scottish of holidays…) – perhaps it’s worshiping the Old Gods of Westeros. But thank the gods for it.
Frightened Rabbit playing “Things” live at Terminal 5 in New York, NY on May 5th, 2016: