This past Tuesday, Frightened Rabbit played their second consecutive show at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club. This observer feared a performance dredged in tedium that stemmed from playing at the same venue two nights in a row, but after five minutes of listening to the enthusiasm of a first-show attendee, that fear had wholly evaporated. As it turned out, half the crowd had attended the first show and left so inspired that they immediately returned for more. When Frightened Rabbit took the stage with Scott Hutchison at the helm, any uncertainty that still existed in the club was replaced with a delightfully blithe assurance that swept through the crowd like a warm summer breeze.
In an interview preceding the show, Hutchison told me about the success of the tour that has been ongoing since the release of their most recent album, Pedestrian Verse, this past February. “Some bands choose to wait a couple months before touring, to let their new music sink in. But we just jumped right in.” He discussed the initial “shock” that fans experienced when half of the band’s sets were suddenly filled with new material, but as is usually the case with change, discontent eventually dissipates.
Hutchison discussed the initial acquisition of a serious fanbase after the release of the band’s breakout album, The Midnight Organ Fight--a melancholic narrative about the end of a relationship. There still exists that tinge of despondency in Pedestrian Verse, which helps it adhere to Frightened Rabbit’s sonic repertoire, but the thematic content has become somewhat less morose, and the sound has taken on a cavernous feel reminiscent of The National. Hutchison is happy with that comparison, citing the infamously melancholic—and incredibly talented—band as a major influence in his musical approach.
At The Paradise, the frontman really demonstrated that he has come into his own. He played with a graceful confidence and skill recognizable in artists that know they’re good, and that they don’t have to do anything else to prove it; everybody already knows—especially his fans. Hutchinson frequently interacted with the audience, displaying a genuine candor imbued with a dry wit. He played alone more than once, and was especially captivating during an acoustic performance of “Fuck this Place.” That should strengthen anticipation for his rumored solo projects, which were confirmed in our interview. He plans to begin writing immediately after this tour winds down, and he hopes to collaborate with several artists—the likes of which depend on the songwriting that has yet to take place.
Having experienced Hutchison’s magnetic charisma, one might find it difficult to believe that the name Frightened Rabbit is derived from a nickname he had as a child as a result of a severe social aversion. When I asked him if the moniker had become an ironic homage to his past, Hutchison told me that while he’s entirely comfortable in a professional forum—e.g. onstage in front of thousands of people—more intimate social settings still bring out that frightened rabbit. He described it as a switch that he flips, and it is one that, at least musically and professionally, he has certainly mastered. Be there the next time that switch is flipped, magic might happen.