Rabbits perform Brooklyn beats in the Berkshires

When I first saw the signs for the White Rabbits concert posted around Paresky, I assumed it was some relatively unknown indie band from New York City that the Clark had solicited. It was not until I began to research the band and listen to its albums that I came upon a very familiar song. It was titled “Percussion Gun,” and I realized that it was not only continuously coming up on my Pandora playlist, but I also recognized it from the FIFA 2010 video game. The White Rabbits have been growing in popularity ever since the release of their first highly-praised album Fort Nightly in 2007. After performing in large-scale venues including The Late Show with David Letterman, the band released their second album, It’s Frightening, in 2009. After learning what a hot, up-and-coming band White Rabbits was and realizing that the show was going to be within walking distance of the College, I knew that I had to attend.
Perhaps my preconceived notions of what a Brooklyn-based band’s concert would look like skewed my thoughts surrounding this show, but the fact was that despite the rock nature of the performers, this show was in fact at the Clark Art Institute and would not involve either a) a standing mosh-pit of alternative-loving enthusiasts, or b) standing at all. But as I found out by their second song, seats were not enough to hold back those who love a good head-bang, and there was a group of fans that formed a dance group on the side to get their groove on.
The six members of the White Rabbits all take their turn on a bass, two guitars, two keyboards, a complex drum set and a multitude of tambourines. The band played a set lasting about an hour and a half consisting of 13 songs and two encores. “The Damned” and “While We Go Dancing” introduced the crowd to the band’s unique sound. Using recorded sound effects helped to give a techno-ish sound to some of their songs, while rhythm percussionists Matthew Clark and Jamie Levinson on drums kept a continual beat that was impossible to sit still to.
One thing that stuck out to me was the band’s sharp cues. There was so much sound involved in their songs that when the band went silent, either in the middle of a piece or to end it, it was like a bomb had stopped exploding; yet they were always very concise and together, which made every song sound sharp. Instead of doing slow fades, White Rabbits was able to embody the rock sound with controlled drum solos and guitar riffs. They played songs off both of their albums including “The Salesman,” “Walk of the Camels” and “Midnight and I.” The song “Lionesse” had a great piano melody that frontman Stephen Patterson carried throughout the tune, even when Alex Even started his insane guitar riff. Another notable performance was Brian Betancourt on bass in “Walk Around the Table.”
My personal favorite of the night was “They Done Wrong/We Done Wrong” for its fast tempo, but two songs towards the end of the set were obviously the crowd favorites. “The Plot,” with Patterson and Gregory Roberts (also on guitar) singing amazing vocals showed off not only the high-energy, fun nature of the band’s indie rock sound, but also the raw talent of the individuals in the band. Seeing a group in a small venue such as the Clark provides for the opportunity to see small, relatively unknown bands. While they may not yet have the status of performing in a huge  arena, the White Rabbits represent a group of bands that have actual talent and sound even better in concert than they do on recordings, unlike most of their pop-culture peers (case in point: The Black Eyed Peas at the Super Bowl – yikes).
The song that really grabbed the attention of the crowd was the well-known “Percussion Gun,” which had the entire place rocking along with the killer drums. The tambourine also provided a fantastic sound in this song and others that is unique to this group.
When the band exited the stage, the crowd was just too energized to let them go so soon and cheered for an encore. After coming back on stage and playing an additional two songs, including “Kid on my Shoulders,” the band finally went backstage with the applause of a very satisfied audience at their backs.
Another perk of seeing a group in a small venue is that it allows those who are persistent to meet the members for a quick question and answer session. When I asked them about their current tour and drive into the Berkshires in the snow, Roberts responded that, “It is very pretty.” Well Williamstown, at least we have that. Patterson also quipped that he would love to sign the Steinway piano inside the Clark someday, and to that Roberts said, “He’s a one-man Gilbert and Sullivan.” I would certainly agree; all of the members of White Rabbits put on an incredible show, and I hope that the Clark continues to recruit bands of this genre and stature for the community to enjoy.

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