Frightened Rabbit stirs it up at Belly up

By Loren Robb

Apparently San Diego is fond of the Scottish. Or it may just be their blood that runs the streets. While I waited for the main act to grace the stage this misty Tuesday night in Solana Beach, I struck up a conversation with the fellowship surrounding me. What was felt there was an Atlantic swell, and America was the outnumbered victim.

On March 12, Scottish bands Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit to perform at The Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach.

Banker’s Hill, North Park, 5th & Market Street: scattered across the city, the United Kingdom had found its haven among the streets of San Diego. Tonight was an immigrant’s opportunity to give thanks to the land that encouraged him, and I was simply a passenger on the vessel . James Graham, vocalist for the opener Twilight Sad, started the gestures with a dialogue (which I can say with certainty) that was misunderstood by anyone not last named O’Connell.

The exchange set forth a tone juxtaposing inclusion and distance. The audience was engaged but nonetheless entranced because we were the show. And then we weren’t. Twilight Sad was an echoing trio rummaging through its set looking for answers. The music had a spontaneous taste, as if the sounds were recently altered for American palates. They played on with jokes and laughs, but they seemed lost in place not sound. Nonetheless, the opener did as any appetizer operates: leave us satisfied but ultimately craving more.

As attendees at the The Belly Up strengthened in number, and the night grew restless, the patrons of Frightened Rabbit grew restful. We were diseased, encompassed by the show’s eclectic mix of tranquility and fascination that sponsored our appetites. As they took the stage an air of excitement permeated the tavern, and you could sense the direction.

The music was a drunken monologue (it was my friend’s birthday) that exposed the current fever for good folk music. Although Frightened Rabbit covers bases of pop and rock, the show was premised around acoustics.

Lead singer Scott Hutchinson showed vocal technique and prowess, wowing his listeners with solos reminiscent of Mumford and Sons or Dave Matthews Band. The ideas seemed centered around the abandonment of everything except his voice and his guitar.

The show hosted a collection of highlights, most notably the catchy “Late March, Death March.” Hutchinson introduced the tune as “Death March” and it has become a personal favorite ever since. Preluded by cheers and shouts, it was evident I was not alone in this idea. The song kept the audience dedicated to a chorus drenched in handclaps and rhythmic. It was our pinnacle of involvement, and a bitter taste that the show would soon come to a close. As the set closed and the encore resumed, it was only Hutchinson who decided to return for more.

It was a brilliant ending to a night of flicking guitars and drum, both acoustic and amplified. After a few songs the band once again accompanied its vocalist; it was a beautiful sense of seeing Frightened Rabbit in full circle. They were stripped, fragmented and then put back together again. They did this to themselves for the audience, and for the purpose of getting to know people they’ll never actually know.

But what was taken from this Tuesday night show in Solana Beach is this: cheap and fleeting love never sounded so brilliant.