I headed back to Club Passim in Harvard Square this week to see Carla Kihlstedt and Matthias Bossi, a duo calling themselves Rabbit Rabbit. Cambridge was the first date on their tour of the eastern U.S., which they are traversing in a rather fabulous retro tour bus (which you can apparently take a tour of with a special VIP package!). I’ve seen them a couple of times before and I’m a subscriber to their website, Rabbit Rabbit Radio, which is a very cool concept: every month you get a download of their latest song, a video, a collection of photographs, an inevitably-quirky top-ten list, lyrics, discussion, and access to all of their archives.
The two of them have an impressive and perplexing resume, having participated in bands anywhere from jazz to metal to rock and having collaborated with people like Tom Waits, Blixa Bargeld, Shahzad Ismaily, Fred Frith and Nels Cline. They are both excellent singers and musicians, and their shows are always full of wit and dry humor. Their songs run the gamut from charming and cute domestic affairs to some pretty dark and dramatic stuff. Perhaps because they record one song a month instead of going into the studio for a week to record a whole album at once, there is a lot of variety in the music they come up with.
Highlights of the show for me included “After the Storm,” inspired by family stories of Hurricane Carol – a beautifully haunting and lonely-sounding song. Another favorite was “Inside/Outside,” which Mr. Bossi described as “a self-portrait, in some ways, of what it’s like to be married.” You can see their studio version here:
Another one I really liked was “My Town,” described as “indirectly related to the [Whitey] Bulger saga.” (For my readers too far from Boston to have heard of him, Whitey Bulger is a very notorious local mobster/murderer who was on the run for nearly twenty years before being caught and put on trial this year.) This song has some of my favorite lyrics from the band: “The knife is anxious / Time swallows time / My hand soothes the blade / There’s no safe place for you / Waiting is my weakness / Your lying tongue shall soon lay quiet…” Very creepy. You can see the official video here:
And – help me, I can’t stop picking favorites! – I also really loved “In the Dead of Night,” which had some really nice vocal harmonies. It’s a very sad song, which (according to the members-only website, which is a great resource for writing concert reviews, by the way!) was written in Europe but inspired by a decidedly American tale, S. C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon, which Mr. Bossi was reading at the time. It’s about the genocide of the Native American population in the nineteenth century.
Rabbit Rabbit is currently on a tour of the eastern U.S., and will be heading west in the fall; you can see their tour dates by clicking here. They’ve got upcoming dates in Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, both Carolinas, Indiana and Illinois this month. Check them out, and make sure to stop by the merch table, which had some extra-cool stuff including little handmade rabbit pins. (I feel like you would have to buy two so you could do the whole “Rabbit Rabbit” theme, but I guess it’s up to you. 😉 )