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April 5, 2012 | 12:56 p.m. CST
The White Rabbits, originally from Columbia but now based in Brooklyn, NY, performs at The Blue Note on Wednesday, April 4. Photographs by Parker Miles Blohm
The mixture of mesmerizing focus and energy at The Blue Note Wednesday night was a huge success.
Believers, the first band, have a crowd-pleasingly upbeat sound and a similarly upbeat energy, making them a good opening band for the intense acts that followed. As The Blue Note began to fill up people took up spots near the stage to begin to lose themselves in the music.
After a short break, the one-man band Gull took the stage and donned a futuristic looking metal mask with an echoing microphone built in. By recording short vocal or guitar sequences and having them play on repeat, he made himself sound like a four-piece band, beating his drum set with one stick and playing his guitar with his free hand. True to his name, he had bird-like movements and at times a rather bird-like sound that was strange but interestingly worked.
Near the end of his set, he ripped off the metal mask after recording and repeating a tribal sounding chant and played the drums with insane energy. The crowd responded in kind.
Finally White Rabbits took the stage, plunging right into their first song. A ghost of Texas Chainsaw Mass Choir, the band’s name from their college days in Columbia, can still be seen in their performance. It felt like the five members of the band were barely holding themselves back from full head banging, heavy metal glory. They channeled the extra energy into their songs though, using dissonance, counter melodies and harmony in a mesmerizing way. Their intense focus seemed to hypnotize the audience members, shocking them when the songs abruptly ended.
The audience was a mix of college students and a slightly older crowd who clearly knew the band when they attended MU. The band members pointed out people in the crowd several times, smiling in recognition.
Having two drummers worked well for the band, with one sitting and playing more traditional rhythms while the other stood and pounded out steady, energetic beats with sticks, mallets, a tambourine and even a maraca. Those heavy beats became the foot-tapping backbone for a lot of the songs.
They finished and left the stage, only to be stomped and screamed back on for an encore dedicated to a fan in the audience named “Scott the Ninja Kid.” Overall, White Rabbits’ homecoming provided a great night of music.