Sons and Daughters with Bodies of Water and Frightened Rabbit at The Middle East

Monday nights can be rough for concerts. Boston is full of basically responsible types–studious degree seekers and go-getters, all that Puritan work ethic and whatnot. I missed Sons and Daughters the last time they played in Cambridge back in 2006, and I’d heard how good they are live, so I wasn’t about to miss them again, Monday night (or, perhaps more accurately, Tuesday morning) be damned. The last few times we’ve gone to shows at The Middle East, they’ve been jam-packed with college kids (and maybe high school kids, too). Besides feeling a bit… er… mature in those crowds, I thought the mood of the shows overall was a bit more anxious. It’s hard to explain… it’s something about hormones floating around in the bodies of kids who are too young to buy a drink (and who don’t need any more sugar in their diets). Anyway, we’ve seen some good shows, but last night felt different. It wasn’t as crowded (too bad, in a way, but it made it more comfortable), and the audience felt a bit more with it–a bit older with more experience at shows, not trying very hard, just laid back and having a good time. It made a big difference.

Two of the evening’s three bands, Frightened Rabbit and Sons and Daughters, are from Glasgow. Between them and The Pastels and all those other Scottish bands, they’re making me want to visit Glasgow! I’m a bit Scottish, anyhow… I was impressed to see (and, well, hear–accents, you know) some folks in the audience from Scotland. One couple were right up front when I arrived–since I take photos I get there early to stake my spot at the front, so this couple must have literally been first through the door. During the Sons and Daughters set, some of the Scots in the audience were joking around with the band between songs and it was great–so different from the kids yelling “Babysit me!!” at the St. Vincent show a few weeks back. People teased their drummer, “Play a drum solo!!,” and he gave them the British flip off (I don’t know what else to call it, somebody help me here). The guitarist translated: “That’s slang in Glasgow for ‘No thank you.'” Then, in a bit of a Scottish brogue (genuine, I think) a guy in the audience shouted, “Up your kilt, son!” Love it. But I am getting way ahead of myself.

Frightened Rabbit
Frightened Rabbit

Frightened Rabbit
Frightened Rabbit (channeling Animal?). Ez loves this one.

First up was Frightened Rabbit, a band describing themselves on MySpace as pop, indie, and folk. They were very unpretentious–seemingly in reality, and not as its own pretense. Their music had a good energy, nice melodies, two and sometimes three guitars, strong, sometimes heavy drumming, and urgent, sometimes plaintive vocals. Pretty good stuff. They name-checked two different bands during their set that I’ve been interested in recently, too–another Scottish band, The Twilight Sad, and Rhode Island’s own The Brother Kite, who they played with at some point.

Bodies of Water
Bodies of Water

Bodies of Water
Bodies of Water

Next up was Bodies of Water. They’re a bit less unpretentious, I’d say (their MySpace page describes their music as “Showtunes/Showtunes/ Showtunes”). Their song “Doves Circle the Sky” has an Abba-esque piano bit. They’re okay, but after the very earnest Frightened Rabbit set, they came off a bit half-assed somehow. Their girl-drummer was pretty cool, though.

Sons and Daughters blew me away. They are as good live as they possibly could be, I think. Adele’s voice is huge. She’s a total spit-fire… total firecracker… To say she belted out the tunes is an understatement. I hear all kinds of kick in their music–The Clash, Iggy Pop, some sort of heavy 60s garage-soul thing, maybe a bit of The Jam in some songs. Adele was doing a little bit of Tina Turner last night, too, with her gold sequined micro mini dress and shiny purple hot pants.


The micro-mini


Adele, doing some serious belting. Yes, her mouth is open wider than the microphone.

Their guitarist, Scott, is sort of perfect somehow. Thin and good-looking (Ez and I are trying to figure out who he looks like–a little bit of Hugh Grant, but without the arrogant element? …and there’s a little bit of The Clash in there, too), he struck such a great rock look with his bangs and his polka-dot shirt and his belt. Oh yeah, and he played the hell out of his guitar and his voice works really well off of Adele’s.


Scott, the guitarist for Sons and Daughters


Scott, looking maybe a little like Ian McCulloch with that hair.

Their drummer was a good guy, too. After refusing to do a drum solo during the regular set, he came out first for the encore and played a little bit for us. After everyone cheered he said, “And that was shit.” Unfortunately, Ailidh, their bassist, was feeling a bit under the weather, and I think that’s why we only got one song for an encore.


David, not playing a drum solo.


Ailidh, not feeling well, but soldiering on.

It was seriously one of the best shows I’ve been to in a long time, even though the Sons and Daughters set felt a little bit short. How much did I enjoy myself? So much that I put my camera to bed before the end of their main set. They closed the main set with a hard version of one of my favorites, “Johnny Cash.”


Adele, Sons and Daughters

Ez, who had spent much of the evening printing, managed to get to the show in time to see the vast majority of the Sons & Daughters set. He surprised me afterwards–I didn’t even know he’d arrived. As we stood for a second talking, one of the club guys tossed a setlist in front of me, so I can tell you that they played the following:

  • Gilt Complex
  • The Nest
  • Hunt
  • Rebel With the Ghost
  • Red Receiver
  • Taste the Last Girl
  • Rama Lama
  • Dance Me In
  • Flags
  • Goodbye Service
  • Chains
  • Johnny Cash

Encore:

  • Broken Bones (unfortunately, they didn’t play this one)
  • House In My Head

I meant to buy a Frightened Rabbit CD, but just ended up with the new Sons and Daughters CD. Though they’re on their third album now, Sons and Daughters were still manning the merch table themselves, and Scott sold me the CD himself. They seem to take the lyrics to their single “Gilt Complex” to heart. I’m gonna guess they haven’t forgotten their friends back home.

I have heaps more photos from the show here, here, and here. Help me decide which are the best ones!

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