White Rabbits came through Madison once this school year already, playing on a crowded Memorial Union Terrace. This time, they came through the High Noon Saloon, touring with Gull and guest Coo Woo. While the venues are quite different, White Rabbits put on a good show for both.
Opening act Gull is only Nathaniel Rappole. Donning a particular mask, Rappole becomes a one-man music maker. Using a scratchy microphone, one hand for guitar and the other for drums, Rappole loops riffs and vocals to layer his tracks. His musical style varies from track to track but keeps a certain rock sounding, crunchy undertone. Unlike many masked rockers, he takes off his mask for interviews and even during shows.
Rappole’s long hair flew around his head as he worked an improvised drum set. He ran around the stage, furiously working his electronic and musical equipment. Climbing on speakers, Rappole would cock his head and moan into his mask’s microphone to create eerie backgrounds for some tracks. Gull is certainly an unusual spectacle, but the passion and energy for a good show is always present.
White Rabbits, on the other hand, is a group of six men. The band is often labeled as percussion-heavy, with two drummers instead of one. They work a full outfit of guitars, drums, keyboards and microphones to create their own unique sound. At a venue like the High Noon Saloon, they take up a considerable amount of stage space, at times even seeming comically cramped.
Touring along with the release of their new album, Milk Famous, White Rabbits have been trying out new material on the way. While their latest album has had mixed reviews from fans and critics, it has not detracted from their performance. The group has considerable presence and energy that is always impressive to see, and their new tracks worked well in their set list.
The pairing of improv performance musician Gull and indie rock White Rabbits might seem odd at first, as they seem like visual and musical opposites. Yet both acts have some inherently unusual qualities that make them worth seeing and also make them a good touring pair. Live, they are both very different acts to watch, but together, they make for an interesting night of music.
With two openers, the show lasted more than three hours. Along with Coo Woo, the lineup had good diversity and all involved performed well. Despite its length, the acts stayed fresh, and the show never dragged.
While it’s a little distance from campus, the High Noon Saloon is nonetheless worth the trek, and proved it so yet again with the White Rabbits show. Each venue in Madison seems to have its own distinctive charm, and the High Noon Salon is no different.
White Rabbits still have a number of shows before their tour ends. They will be touring until May 1, rounding out their tour with a half-month stretch in Europe. While a stretch from the High Noon Saloon and certainly the Terrace, it’s nice to see the band still play with such energy at smaller venue in a smaller town.