Thursday, September 24, 2009

White Rabbits - Live Review

It’s not every day of the week (a Wednesday at midnight, specifically) that you see two drummers sharing a stage and one hell of a percussion set up. After the guitar fuzz cleared, White Rabbits’ dual drummers punched up the first song of the night, their sticks first hitting in unison and then splitting into separate rhythms.

The NYC-by-way-of-Missouri band calls their music “honky tonky calypso,” drawing influences from reggae, ska, and big pop hooks. Perhaps that’s an appropriate categorization, but it’s hard to draw any kind of box around this dramatically unique sextet. When they took the stage at the Grog Shop last night, eyes flickered from one band member to the next in hopes of catching all the action. The problem? Too much to see, not enough eyeballs.

When members of the crowd weren’t “drumming” on their thighs to “The Plot,” off the band’s debut, Fort Nightly, they were nodding in rhythm with the bass on “They Done Wrong/We Done Wrong,” one of the band’s many Spoon-like songs. (That should not come as a huge surprise; Spoon’s Britt Daniel produced It’s Frightening, their latest album, earlier this year after the two bands toured together.) The twinkle of the piano and softly distorted guitars bring the rock to the music, a mix of melodic sweetness and jutting edginess.

What holds everything together throughout, though, is the beat. White Rabbits ended the set with “Percussion Gun,” their very aptly-named single. Alternating bursts of spastic and punchy drumming always sounded incredibly catchy on the album, but feeling and seeing the intensity in person brought the music to life.

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