Live review: White Rabbits @ the Fox TheatreBy and Nathan Rist | April 22nd, 2010 | 4 comments
At the end of their opening set at the Fox Theatre last night, Here We Go Magic invited three members of headliner White Rabbits out to drum on their closer. “We like these guys,” drummer Peter Hale announces. “They’re from the same town as us.”
Um, sure. If by town you mean Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a hipster enclave from where about 68 percent of currently touring bands hail. But one of the most pronounced differences between Here We Go Magic, formally the solo project of frontman Luke Temple, and White Rabbits is that White Rabbits’ dynamic rock songs transcend their origin, particularly live, while Here We Go Magic’s indie psychedelia doesn’t quite translate from Bedford to Boulder.
Here We Go Magic’s set, during which Hale grinned lecherously at bassist Jennifer Turner (not to insinuate anything, but that sort of blatant flirtation belongs does not belong onstage), was messy and lackluster, suffering from an overflow of beats and distinct void of viable melodies. The band seemed to think the music was achieving greater climaxes than it actually was, sort of like they were at a party to which no one in the audience was invited.
The juxtaposition of that performance with White Rabbits precise, practiced rock songs, which veer from raucous alt-pop numbers to pensive, atmospheric indie rock tracks, is extreme, suggesting that your “town” has nothing to do with it. From the moment of the first kick drum hit in opener “While We Go Dancing” (from 2007’s Fort Nightly), the band’s fervor was overwhelming — these songs’ climaxes were ones everyone experienced equally — and the way the six members passed around two tambourines between songs was strangely compelling.
The band played an extensive set list, including new hit “Lionesse,” from last year’s “It’s Frightening,” and old favorite “The Plot,” always achieving the greatest heights when drummer Jamie Levinson and drummer/percussionist Matthew Clark created hypnotic synergy in their rhythms. White Rabbits closed with an encore that involved a grandiose rendition of “The Lady Vanishes” and every member of Here We Go Magic coming onstage to bang a drum or shake one of the tambourines.
It’s unfortunate to judge by comparison — and White Rabbits would have succeeded regardless of their opener’s prowess — but only one of these bands has really been able to evolve their music to prevail outside the confines of Williamsburg — and it’s clear which one that is.
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Emily Zemler is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to Reverb. She also writes for Spin, Alternative Press, Relix and has a weekly column on MTV.com where she forces musicians to talk about books.
Nathan Rist is a freelance photographer and a regular Reverb contributor. He hails from the mountains of Telluride, but he’s currently studying at the University of Colorado at Boulder.