White Rabbits rock the Paradise

A review of White Rabbits, Here We Go Magic at the Paradise Rock Club on May 1, 2010

, Staff Writer

White Rabbits have been creating buzz throughout the indie scene with their reputation for raucous, energetic live performances, and their May Day show at the Paradise Rock Club lived up to the hype with an awesome performance filled with intense rhythms and sweeping melodies. Mixing lush guitar crunch, soaring piano hooks, and a crushing percussive drive, White Rabbits put on a show that was as dark and sinister as it was inspiring.

After a thrilling set by Here We Go Magic, White Rabbits took the stage to a crowd buzzed on warm spring air and PBR. Alexander Even stood alone at first, strumming warm fuzzy feedback through a beautiful hollow-bodied Telecaster. Stephen Patterson eventually joined him on piano, and everyone else fell in as the loose notes turned into the pulsing rhythm of “While We Go Dancing,” a jumpy banger from their 2007 debut album Fort Nightly.

The unabashed focal point of the band is their extra-large percussion section, one extra member that sounds like three. The drumming madness of Matthew Clark and Jamie Levinson is a spectacle to behold, even when they’re laying low to back up a synth-ridden jam session before “Rudie Fails” or shaking tambourines under the bolero-inspired funk of “Kid On My Shoulders.”

Piano man Stephen Patterson is another intense personality onstage. Taking the lion’s share of vocal duties, sometimes swapping verses with Alexander Even, whose jumpy chords add balance to an otherwise bass-laden rhythm section (though, I guess the whole band is technically a rhythm section, isn’t it?) Even though the songwriting is sometimes dark and angsty, Patterson puts such a pure energy into his performance that the whole thing feels hopeful and fun. After thumping through “Midnight and I” and “Right Where They Left,” two slightly moody ballads, White Rabbits thundered the night away with “Percussion Gun,” a thundering jam that shook wall and made your insides jelly.

Openers Here We Go Magic brought a strange brew of electronic psychedelic folk that took a few songs to get into, but ultimately was a strong mix of chill grooves and rich layers that built up in a slow crescendo and became so strong it was sometimes overpowering. “Fangela” is a soothing trance-rock number that would sound great on some indie film soundtrack. “Ahab” got a little louder and piled on even more layers of keyboards and vocal harmonies.

Ultimately, Here We Go Magic performed a collection of songs that stood well on their own, and have since become mainstays on my iPod, but end up sounding repetitive when played in succession. That’s not a knock, because their music is really good, but seems to be more comfortable in the studio. The heavy, drawn out build of the songs holds up live, but becomes less thrilling the more it happens.

Leave a Reply