In reviewing last night’s Frightened Rabbit concert at Toronto’s Kool Haus under skies teaming with Scottish rain and wind that blew to honour the band, I could write about many things.
I could write about the energy that swept from stage to crowd, forcing itself into dancing toes and limp wrists that dangled while skirts inched higher to reveal sweaty shins above stomping feet. It was an energy that flowed about like a ghost infecting everyone in the crowd.
I could write about an opening act I’d never come across before, Brooklyn’s Augustines, and I might describe how, within the first two songs, the three-piece had me hooked or how when lead singer Billy McCarthy broke into the song Philadelphia with a raspy cry about brotherly love, I looked at my two brothers standing beside me and felt a calm wave of happiness, the sort that can bring a tear to the eye.
I could write about the strange sense of pride I felt watching Frightened Rabbit take the stage and open into a set filled with songs from four albums that each carry the heart of a band I’ve admired for nearly four years on the sleeves of harmony. From the first song, Holy, to the final chanted echoes of the Loneliness and the Scream, I never stopped moving; a sweaty mess of an awkward dancer who managed to find a few different dance partners, equally impassioned as part of the muse of a favourite group of artists.
I could write about the primal drumbeats, how they vibrate in me still, or about the dripping Scottish voice that carries some of the most poetic lyrics ever. I could write about the eerie keyboard that began Keep Yourself Warm, a song that teaches us in its beauty and its harshness to dig beyond the superficial relationships in life and find meaning in true love and friendship.
Scott Hutchison with a lone guitar and his voice haunting us with Nitrous Gas; I could write about that.
It amazes me how much can be absorbed in a short span of time. I found a thousand new friendships, and I could try to capture that feeling and so much more in this review.
But I won’t.
I choose to write about 21 of us welcomed out of the rain, hours before the official show started. We watched a few songs during sound check – an intimate sort of privilege I’ve sometimes taken for granted in my life following music.
I choose to write about a girl with a flower in her hair, invited in to join us against the official rules that can govern things like “meet and greet” packages. Anna drove nearly 300 km and arrived early, but she wasn’t on the list. Gracious hosts, as the members of Frightened Rabbit and the crew are, she was invited in and beamed with happiness when my brother offered her his poster for signatures. I could see how tight her hugs were when she met the band.
I choose to write about five men and a crew who crossed oceans to be with us, and how, though the road can be a long and toil-filled hardship, they met us with grace and genuine gratitude on a wet Toronto evening. I was honoured to offer them a small token of my appreciation; a small jar of pure maple syrup I made this spring that I hope might give them satisfaction on some hard morning ahead.
They returned the favour by blowing my mind for the second time this year, and that should keep me warm for a while.