You cannot discount the element of luck when speaking of a bands success, or lack thereof. And that is speaking commercially, not critically. All bands crave critical acclaim, and in most cases that praise can lead to record/concert sales. New York(via Missouri) rockers White Rabbits (Stephen Patterson-vocals/piano, Alexander Even-guitars/vocals, Matthew Clark-drums/percussion, Jamie Levinson-drums, Gregory Roberts-vocals/guitar, Rustine Bragaw-bass) have their fair share of positive press. But fresh off their third albums release, Milk Famous, can this be the year they break through?
Hell, Arcade Fire won a Best Everything Grammy a mere two years ago. How did that happen if not for some luck. An aggressive PR agent maybe? A and R man who wouldn't quit.
What do the Black Keys have White Rabbits don't? More humor? Confidence? Better representation?
It is not a bigger sound. It is not a bolder and more confident stage presence. It is not a more concise and polished set. No sir, White Rabbits have an aggressive, energetic and down-right fun hour plus set that was in full display last night at their native city's Webster Hall. It need not apologize for lacking the record sales or larger venues those other bands can boast.
Let's call it right place, wrong time. If last night was any indicator these fellas are on the brink of stardom.
They leaned heavily on Milk Famous and the results were seamless and successful. The moody "Heavy Metal" opened the set. For their first release it is a nice way to start, but far from the best work on this record, A few songs later the piano heavy "I'm Not Me" showcased strong melody and sheer exhuberance. There is an ELO thing going on here and it sure can bring a smile to your face. And let's not forget the toe tapping... or here, clapping.
They dipped into their debut record, 2007's Fort Nightly, and blitzed through "While We Go Dancing."
"There's Something That You Want to Say/I'm Not Asking/Just Sleep You're Nights Away/While We Go Dancing" are not just lyrics, but commands. Six pieces working on all cylinders. Vocals, guitar, bass, piano, and the drums... the drums... the drums.
Never are those drums more on display than with their hit, Percussion Gun, from 2009's It's Frightening. Beautiful tribal beats fill the air as the band slowly kicks in... then out... then in again.
Immediately after a spirited version of "The Plot" they sequed into their gothic "Lionesse." It played like a mix of Danny Elfman and The Band, circa 1975. More toe tapping goodness.
The boys were confident enough to incorporate new material into their encores too, leading off with "Danny Come Inside." Their long guitar-heavy intro popped and would surely make Bradford Cox smile. Someone in Hollywood needs to add this song to a chase scene and fast. If "Percussion Gun" is their drum calling card "Danny Come Inside" is their electric bass/guitar signature.
Finally they slowed down "Kid on My Shoulders" to the point of unrecognizable. A groovy bass line and hints of a Brian DePalma score gave new freshness to an already fresh song. All good. All confident. All in.
No wasted moments. Little, to any banter with the reserved, but admiring crowd. A quality rock and roll outfit who should be playing larger arenas, and fast.
Meatloaf at Wellmont? Sinead?
If those folks can get three thousand there is no reason White Rabbits can't.
The luck has got to change. With their talent that is the only logical explanation. Take heed Alt World, and beyond.
White Rabbits Setlist, Webster Hall, NYC 4.12.12
"I'm Not Me"
"While We Go Dancing"
"Temporary" from Letterman 4.1.12
"Danny Come Inside" from Kimmel Sometimes you just need to hear a song live before you get it. Case in point. Earth shaking bass and pitch perfect harmony and groove. Rock and Roll Exhibit A. Note: Jimmy Kimmel may have the lamest crowd for this song. Wake up kids!!??!!