French Kicks & Frightened Rabbit review

4 Jun

I have been a fan of French Kicks ever since Trial of the Century came out in 2004, so you can imagine how I psyched I was when they announced this show. Since I knew I was going to attend, I waited until the date to buy their new album, Swimming, right then and there. Oh man, hearing all the new stuff live for the first time was really satisfying. I had only listened to “Said So What”, “Atlanta”, “Sex Tourists”, “Carried Away”, and “Abandon” before getting the album and I was struck by how tight and catchy they were. The band weaves some old timing pop melodies that have become their signature style–the trembling guitar, bouncing drums, and minimalistic piano parts. Despite the addition of Aaron Thurston on drums in 2004, Nick still writes all the drum parts. One welcome change was allowing Josh to sing on more songs. During the show he sang “Said So What” & “Carried Away”–two of my favorites off the album. Three of the songs off Swimming were written solely by Mr. Wise. Speaking of his talents, the album art this time was a collaborative effort between the whole band, as opposed to Wise’s creative control on the album art for Two Thousand and many of the t-shirt designs.

It was a bit of a bummer seeing such a scanty crowd, all standing at least three feet away from the stage, but I’m not surprised. It is Kansas City, and it was a Monday night. I cringed though when in between songs Nick mentioned that he felt like he was “at a recital.” Ouch. In the beginning he tried to shimmy and groove a little on stage (which was humorous), but in the end I think he gave up trying to spur us to dance. It was good hearing them play some old songs like “Trial of the Century,” “So Far We Are” and “England Will Just Not Let You Recover.” I wish they had played “Knee High” and I mentioned it to Nick later, to which he promptly responded “You should have just called it out.” I know! Why am I such a wallflower? I guess it was because the crowd was just so unresponsive I didn’t want to attract any notice or be that kid that shouts out song titles.

An endearing part of their performance was seeing Lawrence and Nick trade instruments, with Nick sporting the bass while Lawrence took over on the telecaster for a couple of songs. I suppose I am also impressed with Nick being able to play every instrument featured on the album. When speaking to him earlier he mentioned that he always really liked Pittsburgh after I asked him if they’d ever played there. Sweet! He also said that he liked the atmosphere of the Recordbar; of course, that was before they played, so maybe he changed his mind, haha.

Frightened Rabbit opened up for them, and they were really good. I was surprised at how great the sound was at the Recordbar. I am so used to stuff either being way too loud, or just generally shitty, so this was very relieving. There’s nothing that sucks more than paying $12 cover to get into the show and having it sound like crap. Anyhow, they played some stuff I recognized like “The Greys”, “Be Less Rude” and maybe “Square 9”? They also improvised a lot of instrumental jamming into some songs, which was loud and gritty. They had a laptop on stage of which I am not sure what the function was. Their vocalist was real high-energy and slicked with sweat by the end of the set. If I hadn’t killed all my cash on the concert ticket and Swimming, I would have definitely bought the new Frightened Rabbits album, The Midnight Organ Fight. Luckily for me, I found a a leaked version through Filestube.com. Hah, that site is pure gold.

One For the Team was the first opener, but I didn’t get there until they had finished up. Shitty day at work = two hour nap for me. I did get to talk to one of the dudes afterward, though. Because the Recordbar has this lame policy of kicking out minors once the show is over, the dudes were sitting outside as I was leaving. I mentioned Hedgu and the night they played Pittsburgh (simultaneous with first game of Stanley Cup!). Hopefully they will come play Pittsburgh again as it is rather sad that I have missed them twice within a month’s time.

listen:

French Kicks – Oh Fine [from Trial of the Century]
French Kicks – Knee High [from Two Thousand]
French Kicks – What You Want [b-side]
French Kicks – New Man [from Swimming]

Frightened Rabbit – The Greys [from Sing the Greys]
Frightened Rabbit – Fast Blood [from The Midnight Organ Fight]

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