FRIGHTENED RABBIT, THE TWILIGHT SAD, WE WERE PROMISED JETPACKS
Tuesday, Sept. 22
A kilt, maybe, or some other stereotypical emblem of Scotland would not have surprised the full house gathered to hear this three-band bill of brilliant Scottish power-pop purveyors.
But a Mexican wrestling mask?
Bassist Craig Orzel of The Twilight Sad set off a buzz with his black-and-silver headgear. Honoring the tour stop with a nod to its culture? Really shy? Fear of frightening people with his actual face?
Turns out he just likes masks, although he claims he's only worn one onstage once before. Earlier in the day, while visiting a store on Fourth Avenue, he was smitten not only with the mask, but also with a bit of philosophy he overheard the store's proprietor sharing with another customer, something along the lines of, "If you have faith, you can achieve what you want."
Orzel went on at some length about how much the traveling Scots enjoyed Fourth Avenue, especially the secondhand and vintage-clothing stores. The heat got to them, though, before they made it to Congress Street and the Chicago Store.
The Twilight Sad was the darker, heavier center of the bill, between angsty-pop openers We Were Promised Jetpacks and the somewhat more organic headliners, Frightened Rabbit. Passages of The Twilight Sad's music almost evoked early Yo la Tengo without all of the guitar-wanking. Their guitar and drums seem married and tough, entirely codependent and more powerful because of it.
Power and precision at speed were hallmarks of the evening, and all three bands delivered a thrill a minute, with inventive, unpredictable drumming, loud-to-super-loud dynamics and occasional color accents on xylophone or keyboards.
Jetpacks closed their set on their raging "It's Thunder and It's Lightning," in which lead singer and songwriter Adam Thompson all but levitated the room with his stormy passion. If Jetpacks' songs had no words, you'd have scant notion of what's going on inside them. They're very human in that way.
Frightened Rabbit wrapped things up with a superb set reflecting a handful of rootsy influences. The roots of much of the music we call Americana actually arrived here from Scotland and settled in Appalachia. Or perhaps I was hearing things. Was Scott Hutchison's Western shirt another Fourth Avenue find?