Tighter than George Osborne’s purse strings
White Rabbits - Live At XOYO, London

When you sign up for a life in rock n roll, touring obligations are a given. Expenses-paid international travel, complementary booze, nubile groupies and adoring audiences: how hard can it be? Well, temper that with countless hours lost in airports, developing Big Mac-fatigue and waking up every morning in the claustrophobic confines of a fetid tour bus, precisely three inches away from your drummer’s buzzsaw-snoring (with a mouth drier than Gandhi’s flip-flop). As the ‘Tap taught us, touring can break a band in more ways than one.

Having spent the past two months diligently plugging excellent third album ‘Milk Famous’ in venues from Philadelphia to Brussels, it’s understandable that White Rabbits seem somewhat demob happy at XOYO, on the final night of their tour. And if not understandable, then forgivable that they “lose” a guitar on stage, mid-set, only to discover it again, on stage… Presumably where they left it.

It appears cabin fever’s conducive to mustering up an impressive racket too, because, man, are they LOUD. Weeks of pent-up frustration are pummeled out tirelessly by two percussionists. Glimmering in the green light, singer Stephen Patterson hammers his keyboard, spitting out lyrics like, “An eye for an eye,” while malevolently eyeballing the audience. Two guitarists slash viciously at their strings in a haze of distortion. Bubbling, post-punk bass notes bounce off the concrete walls of this bomb-shelter-come-venue, ricocheting down through the onlookers’ bowels.

Perhaps it’s that the Missouri-formed, Brooklyn-based sextet are a long, long way from home; band members are now surrogate brothers and - as with any larger-than-average family - in the competition for attention, whoever makes the most noise wins. Sometimes it almost feels a little too loud, vocals getting smothered in the maelstrom.

It’s nothing a decent soundman couldn’t sort though, because live these Rabbits are tighter than George Osborne’s purse strings. Fan favourites are supercharged, including a searing rendition of ‘The Salesman’, an incendiary ‘Percussion Gun’ and a much welcome outing for ‘Kid On My Shoulders’, which shimmers along in a daze of demented piano arpeggios and tambourines.

New material is equally strong, perhaps thanks to being thoroughly road-tested prior to being committed to tape. The reversed, piano loops in gig-opener ‘Heavy Metal’ sound even more thrilling tonight than they did on the first spin of ‘Milk Famous’. They’re not scared to venture off-script too. On record, latest single ‘Temporary’ dispatches succinct sonic gratification; tonight it takes time kick in, emerging out of an extended fug of FX pedal mayhem, and sounding all the tauter for it.

As the final notes of ‘Kid On My Shoulders’ ring out, the lads grin from ear-to-ear, perhaps contemplating their long overdue homecomings. Though the smiles are reciprocated, we’re loathe to let them go because, live, White Rabbits are a revelation. Hurry back soon boys.

Words by Gemma Samways
Photo by Rachel Lipsitz

Click here for a photo gallery of the gig.

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