When the curtains opened at the House of Blues Anaheim Friday, the audience was greeted with four spot lights on an otherwise pitch-black stage, which created a holy glow worthy of the next coming of Christ.
Seeing Frightened Rabbit live is like having a beer in a living room with good friends, only one friend is really drunk and he's the one who does most of the talking.
Singer and guitarist Scott Hutchison frequently engaged the audience by telling them about a dream where he died and the band's dinner before the show at the Rainforest Cafe. Hutchison even invited the crowd to join the band in breaking into Disneyland after the show was over.
Frightened Rabbit played many songs off of their new album, The Winter of Mixed Drinks, including their single, "Swim Until you Can't See Land."The song was one of the more beautiful moments of the show, especially when the crowd joined in on the melodic "Ooohs." A few tracks stood out from this album, like the sing-along "Living in Color"and "The Wrestle," which Hutchison said was about fighting a shark or sleeping with someone when you're really drunk. (Is there a much difference? he mused.)
Toward the end of the set, Hutchison played a few songs solo on his acoustic guitar while the band members went backstage. When the band came back on stage, they ended the main set with "Living in Color." For the encore, Hutchinson played a unplugged solo version of "Poke" sans microphone. The song was hard to hear after the ear-ringing finale, but what was audible sounded soothing and beautiful.
The Scottish five piece act will please fans of Mumford and Sons and The National, but have a distinct sound strong enough to stand tall amongst other rising indie artists.
Bad Veins opened the evening with an eye-opening set. The duo from Ohio amaze in the same way that the Black Keys and the White Stripes do. How the hell do two people make such a full sound? Bad Veins are one more example of why a bassist and rhythm guitarist are not necessities for a successful rock band.
Instead of adding another pair of hands to the mix, Bad Veins uses beautiful symphonic back tracks to give them a full sound. In many circumstances, these tracks would sound like cheating, but in the case of Bad Veins, it sounds natural. Songs like "Found" have a beautiful orchestral track, which is a welcome addition.
Sebastien Schultz has a visible passion for the drums and plays with gusto. He had a giant smile on his face for the whole set. Benjamin Davis sangs into a telephone, which for most of the set was attached to his microphone. This added a distant but intriguing sound to his vocals.
Bad Veins will easily be able to have their own headlining spot at the House of Blues in the near future and hold their own.
Plants and Animals from Montreal were a solid three piece who, like Bad Veins, sounded larger than they were. Unlike the opening band, however, their set sounded like run-of-the-mill indie rock. It did pick up midway through, as they played more dynamic songs like "Bye, Bye, Bye"which has a beautiful sing-along chorus and "Faerie Dance," a seven-minute jam session which has a dance funk beat rolling drums. Plants and Animals saved their best songs for last, but especially when you have to follow Bad Veins, it's important to start off on a strong foot and have a balanced set.
When not running the OCWeekly.com and OC Weekly's social media sites, Taylor "Hellcat" Hamby can be found partying like it's 1899.