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On The Road To Rabbits

Monday, 29 April 2013

Square 9 - Frightened Rabbit (mp3)

Unwritten Road Trip Rule #2: Never leave a bag full of empties dangling outside of the back passenger door.

Sure, this sounds like an easy thing to do, an easy rule to follow, but the fates are tricky, and they love to play pranks on middle-aged men who engage in young adult behavior.

I won’t say exactly who dangled the empties or exactly how it happened, but on a three-man road trip to Atlanta to see Frightened Rabbit in concert, one of the two men in the car not named Billy took a plastic non-biodegradable convenience store bag full of empty beer cans and tossed them onto a curb in Little Five Points, Atlanta.

Not-Billy then closed the door, and Billy, the responsible and mature driver, unwittingly pulled away and began to follow his smartphone’s amazing directions toward the concert venue. Several miles down the road at a stop light, a nice hipster man most likely from one of the Romance Language countries in Europe jogged down the sidewalk toward our car, waving at us.

Odd though it was, having a hipster moustachioed fella flagging me down, I rolled down the passenger window to see what he had to say. (I mostly did this because I figured if violence was his intent, he would attack my passenger friend first, leaving me time to drive away. And because hipsters aren’t particularly violent or scary.)

“Hi there!” I said, because I’d had two beers at Vortex Burger (best burgers in ATL) before we’d hopped back into the car for the concert. (This is a crucial fact to the gravitas of the story.)

“Excusa me,” the hipster foreign dude says. “I believa you almost losta this baaag.” And he’s pointing at Not-Billy in the backseat. Except he’s not pointing directly at my friend; he’s pointing more toward the back tire.

Not-Billy opens the door. And the bag of empties is sitting there. A sound not unlike a giant frog’s mating call emerges from Not-Billy as he pulls the bag hurriedly back into the vehicle. Apparently Not-Billy hadn’t tossed them confidently enough to the curb. Apparently he’d nudged the bag out rather than hurling it, so when closing the car door, it snagged the bag handle.

And we’re all laughing because we’ve had beer, and because we were mere minutes or miles from a real Dumb & Dumber moment where Billy gets pulled for a DUI for driving with a bag of empties dangling in the open air like the three stooges in the car had been Just Married.

So what I’m saying is that we’re laughing despite the terrifying gravity of What Could Have Been. Because it was pretty f#*king funny. Especially the guest appearance by Zach Galifianakis as The European Hipster.

I needed that moment of unbearable lightness as prelude to the Frightened Rabbit concert at The Masquerade. The concert itself was everything I’d hoped, and two close friends gave me the gift of their presence for the experience.

The “Frabbits,” tackle modern folk rock with a thick Scottish brogue and a sense of lost souls. The subject matter of their music is often akin to two children alone in the wilderness on a windy night with only a single oil lamp to protect and guide them: things aren’t hopeless, but God help everyone if that precious single trace of light were to die out.

Frightened Rabbit ain't for everyone, that’s for sure. But for me? Sometimes I feel like Scott Hutchison and his band mates are dark magicians who can sneak into my dreams. I think maybe they steal bits of my own soul for their music. Never in my life have I heard a band whose songs, one after the other, feel so utterly tuned in to the way I see life, myself, the world.

Some people might read this and, having heard a few Frabbit songs, think I’m a depressed person, but that’s not true. I just happen to believe that light doesn’t mean much without the darkness surrounding it. It’s seeing the darkness, feeling its tentacles around us, that creates such worshipful respect to the precious dwindling light in that oil lamp.

The Frabbits don’t take the light for granted. They celebrate it by keeping it flickering inside their music. It's one thing to be happy because all you see is sunshine and smiley faces. That's called ignorant bliss, and I envy those who find it and keep it. But I'd like to think there's a courage and a bravery in feeling the darkness, in being all too aware of the monsters and snares all around us, yet smiling in the face of it all, peering out into it with that one little lamp, trusting it won't go out, certain that it will help us get home safely.

Provided you don't have a can of empties tied to your leg.

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