With zero stage banter and complete focus, New York's thumping six-piece White Rabbits played a clean three-hour set in less than an hour. Born to play live shows, the group made the quickest return for an encore I've seen to date. Maybe they were playing another show in Seattle that very night. Maybe they're more musically efficient than Brian Eno. Either way, the packed Doug Fir house found itself gasping for breath when all was said and done.
Pouty vocalists tend to bother me, but Rabbits' frontman and multitasker Stephen Patterson rarely slipped into the murkiest depths of emo. His creative, clamoring piano melodies stood up to the band's supercharged drumline, which at times included three people and a pile of broken sticks. And while White Rabbits are nothing if not assertive, their sound manages to be heartfelt while heavy, emotive while immense.
They couldn't resist their hits, playing a lengthy take of legitimate fan favorite “Percussion Gun.” There was no cover of Dylan's “Maggie's Farm,” a classic they're known to make their own, but they did squeeze around 10 songs into a time slot that didn't exceed an hour. It's tough to resist comparing them to We Are Scientists, each offering flickers of punk rock while resisting the urge to sacrifice complexity for simplicity. However, White Rabbits incorporate a bit more bravery, offering a classic rock ‘n' roll sort of approach in their vocal harmonies on top of surging, developed musical ideas.
The sweat covered stage said it all. Tuckered out was the Brooklyn band, and deservedly so. Each member had pounded some drums, waved a tambourine or put on a guitar. And while I first thought the stage was overcrowded and six members too many, I left thinking they had all earned their money. The acoustics at the Doug Fir—always spot on, in my opinion—were tested, but not outdone.
It was the perfect habitat for the wily White Rabbits.
Photos by Mark Stock