Live Review: Frightened Rabbit with Caveman at the Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix, AZ – Friday 20th May 2016

By on Wednesday, 25th May 2016 at 3:00 pm
 

Back in April, Selkirk alt-rockers Frightened Rabbit released their excellent fifth studio album ‘Painting of a Panic Attack’. After a brief handful of live dates in the UK, the band immediately turned their attention to the American side of the pond, embarking on a late spring/early summer U.S. tour that brought them to Phoenix’s Crescent Ballroom last Friday night.

Caveman internal

Supporting Frightened Rabbit on this American tour are New York rock band Caveman, who are officially a quartet, but performed with six members on stage here at the Crescent Ballroom. The expanded lineup allowed them to fully flesh out their warm, atmospheric song arrangements for a pleasantly vibrant and engaging opening set. Frontman Matthew Iwanusa announced standout track ‘Human’ as part of the band’s upcoming record ‘Otero War’, and it immediately made me think that the new album would be well worth a listen. Also appearing on both Caveman’s live set list and their new album is anthemic track ‘Never Going Back’, for which the band just released the following sci-fi themed video.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/cUefqXnAb5A[/youtube]

Frightened Rabbit’s own recent album release might be described as “triumphant”, after the rather muted vibe of their fourth album ‘Pedestrian Verse’. On stage, they took immediate advantage of this triumph, opening their headline set with a blistering rendition of current single ‘Get Out’ and maintaining the high energy level through older tracks ‘Holy’ and ‘The Modern Leper’. The band started off sounding remarkably tight and energetic, especially compared to the last time I’d seen them live. I had been completely nonplussed by their rather sloppy performance at that sparsely attended show in Birmingham, Alabama back in 2013, when guitarist Gordon Skene was still in the lineup. On this night in Phoenix, however, frontman Scott Hutchison and his bandmates, most notably new guitarist Simon Liddell, who replaced Skene and fit seamlessly into the current live arrangement, seemed exponentially more confident and relaxed.

Scott and Simon internal

One of the set’s early highlights, the introspective new album track ’I Wish I Was Sober’, was also one of its slower moments, but Hutchison and company didn’t let their momentum ebb for long. I was excited to hear my personal favourite Frightened Rabbit song ‘Living in Colour’, which got the crowd bouncing along to Grant Hutchison’s formidable four-to-the-floor drum beat. And though ‘Things’, from 2010 release ‘The Winter of Mixed Drinks’, has not been a particular favourite of mine, it was surprisingly effective in this night’s set, combining the full complement of instrumental effects in the band’s five-man lineup with a striking visual lighting display.

A few hardcore Frightened Rabbit fans in the crowd shouted requests for songs from the band’s 2006 debut album ‘Sing the Greys’, and though the band touched on every other album in their repertoire, Scott Hutchison confessed that he didn’t remember how to play all of those early songs. He also declined a rather incongruous request for ‘Poke’ at a high energy point in the middle of the set, calling that song “probably the biggest downer I ever wrote” (which is quite a distinction in his collection, it must be said). Instead, the band wisely stayed with their ever-growing list of established fan favourites, including ‘Pedestrian Verse’ track ‘State Hospital’ and its new album sequel-of-sorts, ‘Lump Street’.

Scott internal

Frightened Rabbit rounded off the set proper with three of their liveliest tunes, racing through storming versions of ‘Nothing Like You’ and the acoustic-flavoured ‘Old Old Fashioned’ before frontman Hutchison invited the crowd to sing along with the familiar and admittedly vulgar ‘Keep Yourself Warm’. Having brought my younger brother with me to the show, I found it a little awkward at first to shout out those particular lyrics, but it occurred to me that Hutchison himself does the very same thing in every show with his little brother Grant on the drum kit behind him, and so I carried on. The rest of the crowd clearly loved joining in on the chorus, and the Scottish five-piece left the stage to thunderous applause at the end of the song.

Scott Hutchison returned to the stage alone to open the encore with a poignant solo performance of ‘Die Like a Rich Boy’, which might have been an effective closer in its own right, but the band had other ideas. Hutchison’s colleagues returned to the stage to play their popular hit song ‘The Woodpile’ and a delightfully theatrical version of ‘The Loneliness and the Scream’, which featured multi-instrumentalist Billy Kennedy on percussion and cemented the band’s brilliant live impression.

Billy cymbal

Caveman’s new album ‘Otero War’ is due out on the 17th of June via Cinematic Music Group. They will continue playing support on Frightened Rabbit’s American tour with West Coast dates through the 27th of May. Frightened Rabbit will play the Sasquatch Festival in Washington State on the 29th of May before heading back across the pond for a list of summer festival appearances, including T in the Park and Latitude. TGTF’s extensive previous coverage of Frightened Rabbit is collected right back here.

Caveman and Frightened Rabbit set lists:

Caveman set list

FR set list

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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