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Friday, February 25, 2011

Josh Ritter and Scott Hutchison concert

Life and school have been busy lately, which has led to the lack of blogging of late. Fortunately, part of what had me busy was a trip to the Twin Cities to see Josh Ritter and Scott Hutchison (of Frightened Rabbit) perform at First Avenue.

Over the last couple years, Scottish band Frightened Rabbit has really solidified their place as one of my favorite active bands. Their 2008 release, The Midnight Organ Fight, would probably make my list of my 5 favorite albums if I was forced to make one. Just about every track on that album has been my favorite at some point or another. The album is a really emotional, post relationship album with some absolutely wonderful song-writing and lyricism. Their follow-up album, The Winter of Mixed Drinks, breaks from the post-relationship mold and features some more uplifting tracks. I placed it #2 on my year end albums list last year behind only a phenomenal Tallest Man On Earth album.

With all that being said, I was really excited to see lead singer Scott Hutchison perform as the opener. It was a little weird hearing him perform group arrangements (some of which I've probably heard close to 100 times) by himself on acoustic guitar, but his emotion in his singing still came through just as well as on the albums. He eschewed set lists and instead just called out for fan suggestions. Additionally, on Twitter (@FRabbits), he said that he would cover one song by another band every night and called for requests from followers. Seeing that the show was at First Avenue, a venue that Prince helped popularize, I suggested "Purple Rain," which led to a pleasant surprise when that was the song he chose to cover! I'm sure dozens of other people suggested the same thing, since it is a pretty obvious choice, but it was still pretty cool to have my suggestion picked. It was great seeing him perform, but I still have Frightened Rabbit near the top of my list of bands I need to see live.

My roommates, who I attended the concert with, were more excited to see the main act, Josh Ritter (my favorite person from Idaho and also the only one I know off the top of my head). I used to listen to Josh Ritter more, but I have kinda drifted from him some in recent years. Regardless, his album The Animal Years, is still one of my favorites and is wonderful every time I listen to it. I also learned that the man knows how to entertain. The whole show he had a huge smile on his face. He bantered with the audience between songs (about representative Michelle Bachman and the impending snow storm that would trap us all in the venue) and just showed a lot of energy and excitement the whole time he was on stage, which is always refreshing when attending a concert.

Below are two of my favorite songs by the performers. There are way too many Frightened Rabbit songs I love, which makes it hard to choose just one, but the first is the music video for "The Loneliness and the Scream" from their 2010 album "The Winter of Mixed Drinks." The second video is for the song that introduced me to Josh Ritter and remains my favorite song of his to this day. The song was featured in the closing moments of season 3 of House, which remains one of my favorite moments in one of my favorite shows, so it was a nice intersection between good music and good TV. Anyhow, the song is called "Good Man" and is from "The Animal Years."

Am I here? Of course I am, yes.
All I need is your hand to drag me out again.

Babe we both had dry spells, hard times in bad lands.
I'm a good man for ya. I'm a good man.

Both artists actually have a good deal of music you can pick up for free if you want to hear more by them.

Josh Ritter recorded a Daytrotter session that has 6 tracks and can be downloaded here. He also has several live versions and covers that you can download on his website here.

Frightened Rabbit has visited the Daytrotter studios twice, so there are two separate four song sessions that can be downloaded here and here. If you enjoy those, support the artists and buy some of their other music or catch them live when they visit your town!

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