Ace of Spades was on the rock tourist list for Frightened Rabbit's last tour, three years ago. I even bought a ticket, but alas, it didn't work out. However, now with a new record from the band and a new recruit among friends, I had to go northward.
Frightened Rabbit, the Regency Ballroom, May 26, 2016: Rock tourism is no bother for me, but the drive up to Sacramento was one of the more exhausting journeys I've taken in a while. Granted, it was a holiday weekend, and I'm not generally used to traffic, and I saw four accidents along the way, but the four-hour drive (double the usual time in average conditions) was brutal. Luckily, I had left work early and was in no rush, but at least the first half of the trip put my, at worst, cross-town ventures in perspective.
Anyway, I had no doubt the drive would be worth it. Ace of Spades was a smaller, clubbier venue than the Regency in San Francisco; it reminded me of Slim's back in the city and probably a million other places around the country. Due to the limited real estate, the band stripped back their stage setup -- the backdrop (based on the album cover) was gone, and maybe some lights were left out. Overall, this is exactly my kind of venue, and sometimes you have to get behind the wheel to find the ones that remain.
Not surprising, the band stuck to mostly the same setlist, save for one track: the perennial favorite "Poke," which popped up again in Scott's solo portion, thanks to a fan request. Less successful was the fan somewhere in the crowd who yelled out repeatedly for "Swim." I assume he meant "Swim Until You Can't See Land," but Scott was not having it. He mentioned the fact that the band had already prepared a setlist, but besides, he confessed he couldn't remember it anyway. This didn't stop the guy, and the back and forth continued through the set.
At this point, I gotta figure it's part of the artist's MO -- maybe it's nice to have a foil and focal point for your banter. To my ears, Scott never crossed the line into outright annoyance, though he called the guy a cunt. Then again, if you know anything about Scottish insults, you know it's practically the first word young Scots learn. Perhaps to be on the safe side, Scott offered a quick lesson to the crowd on the Scottish lexicon.
The conversation between Scott and the concertgoer actually brought to mind one of my old rules of rock tourism: Go to the last show of the tour when you can. The band can often be looser, goosier, and generally more playful. Chalk it up to relief, weariness, burnout -- whatever. Quite often, it adds up to a memorable night.
I haven't seen a show in Sacramento for a while now, but it easily qualifies as a tertiary market, and you know how much I dig tertiary markets. The crowd was a little less familiar with the old tracks, and they couldn't sing as well as we did in San Francisco. But I love that Ace of Spades and Frightened Rabbit have taken a chance on each other. I hope they keep it going.
» there is light but there's a tunnel to crawl through
» found a vein and a pulse
» some people gonna get ideas