I remember thinking, “There are way too many instruments on this stage right now. They must be hiding something; no talent, bad musicianship… it only remains to be seen.” I have never been more wrong in my life. White Rabbits has a huge sound, carefully crafted and under control. I was reminded of Hunter S. Thompson quoting Dr. Gonzo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:
White Rabbit. I need rising sound… And when it comes to that fantastic note where the rabbit bites its own head off, I want you to throw that fuckin’ radio into the tub with me!
I’d like to think that White Rabbits found some inspiration in these words.
Read Aural State’s post for a complete review of the show. I intend to focus a little more on White Rabbits and what made them stand out so much on stage. Opening things up for White Rabbits were The Subjects: the perfect band to warm the crowd up. They were well-rehearsed and enjoyable to listen too, especially when they let the drummer take a crack at singing. I want to dispel the myth that you have to be an emotional tenor with an ornamental guitar — a guitar is not a handbag, kids — to front a rock band.
I already mentioned that I initially thought there were too many instruments on stage. My preference is to find economy in all things, but I was fairly open to the idea of a big band rock group. As White Rabbits set up, I noted two trap sets, two guitars, bass, and keys. For those of you keeping count, that’s a hockey team right there. My curiosity was further piqued when the keyboard player dragged out a tack piano and a Nord Electro 2, the backup choice of Rhodes and Hammond B3 players the world over. The instrument is a mark of good taste (I have one in my living room right now). I had some high expectations for this player. While not revealing himself as a melodic player, he proved to have fantastically quick hands and excellent timing. Although I am not a fan of screaming, his vocals were generally spot on and I would say very authentic for the style of music.
Playing with two drummers on stage can prove to be rhythmically disastrous. White Rabbits pulled off the trick exceedingly well, however, proving how well-rehearsed they are as a group. Even though I was initially wary of the concept, I would now have to say that having two drummers is an essential part of this ensemble. On the other hand, I couldn’t see any justification for having two guitars in the group even though neither of them were at all shabby.
The glue that holds this many musicians together is endless hours of rehearsal and it shows that White Rabbits has put in the time. Each individual was absolutely comfortable throughout the show, moving effortlessly between instruments and movements. This careful rehearsal also shows up in the quality of the arrangements that start with a simple rhythmic or melodic idea and build to a level of excited tension and release.
It was refreshing to hear a band go after some sinister sounding music with gypsy minor keys and the unusual but tasteful calypso rhythm stylings. I would love to hear this band slow it down a little and take on something a little more sophisticated. The cover of “Maggie’s Farm” was a hit with the crowd, but I’d love to hear them try “All the Right Bullets” by Tom Waits. They could really stretch on that tune.