Great Scott: Scottish indie-rock band Frightened Rabbit returns to Pittsburgh


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Scott Hutchison, founder and frontman of Frightened Rabbit, has described the progress of his band as "a very natural progression of small steps." And, once again, those steps are bringing his indie-rock band from Scotland to Pittsburgh.

"Over the years, Pittsburgh has always been one of our regular stop-offs, so we're looking forward to getting back," said Mr. Hutchison, who returns with Frightened Rabbit on Saturday as part of the Thrival Innovation + Music Festival at Bakery Square in Larimer. (See thrivalfestival.com.)

The last time they were in town, playing a sold-out show in March at Mr. Smalls in Millvale, Post-Gazette staff writer Scott Mervis described the group as having "a sensitive heart and occasionally epic sound -- not too far removed from Mumford & Sons or Of Monsters and Men."

They're back, promoting "Pedestrian Verse," their fourth studio album.

"With each record, I feel like we've become better at what we do," Mr. Hutchison said. "Those are certain milestones. And the live experiences -- playing larger audiences and getting used to how that feels -- has been a really important part of our growth.

"It's been so steady and constant that it's hard to pinpoint exact places where things have changed, but looking back at each record, you become better."

It started 10 years ago when Mr. Hutchison set out as a singer-songwriter under the moniker Frightened Rabbit, a nickname the shy artist was given by his mother. Over the years, he has added musicians, including his brother, Grant. Again, one small step at a time.

"I didn't want to bring in people who had seen an advert," Mr. Hutchison said. "When people came into our lives that really fit with the band, we asked them to join.

"I don't think we've exploded and I don't think it will happen at this point. We've been established for a length of time, and it continues to creep along in the same way. We're quite comfortable with the way it's gone. Our only aim is to always be moving forward, whether that's in terms of audience reception or audience size. The real goal is to not remain stagnant."

Their tours across the country have brought them to Pittsburgh a handful of times. They recently made their first television appearance on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon."

"I've always said touring the U.S. is like touring 20 different countries," Mr. Hutchison said. "People's responses are different everywhere. For example, when we play in Boston there's a really strong connection with where we're from and you can feel that. In fact, most places up the East Coast, it feels like a home crowd almost.

"But the differences are a good thing. The variety is great, and I try to embrace that."

As they take the small steps to the stage in Bakery Square, the members of Frightened Rabbit can look back at a journey that has been a mix of the expected and the unexpected.

"We sort of found our feet with our way of working and way of writing," Mr. Hutchison said. "On the latest album, I've realized the type of song I've been trying to write for almost 10 years. It's the realization of a vision, but our natural sense of pessimism has allowed us to enjoy a few happy surprises along the way."

Thrival, which is presented by PNC, kicks off Saturday at noon with the Innovation Showcase at Bakery Square I, which will feature panel discussions and educational workshops with local tech leaders. A pitch competition by the 14 companies in Thrill Mill's Hustle Den incubator will take place in front of about 100 local venture and angel capitalists at Google Pittsburgh's headquarters.

As the pitch competition winds down, amps and speakers will power up for the 5 p.m. start of the music festival, set to take place across the street at the Bakery Square II development site. In addition to Frightened Rabbit, featured artists include national rap trio De La Soul, rapper/producer RJD2, local hip-hop band Formula412 and others.

Local food trucks and a beer booth will be on hand for guests who pay the $20 general admission fee, while guests who pay for $100 VIP tickets will be treated to free parking, free beer, access to mixed drinks and foods prepared by Bar Marco along with access to a tented area with luxury restrooms. The music festival is scheduled to run through 10 p.m.

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Dan Majors: dmajors@post-gazette.com. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/ First Published September 6, 2013 7:45 PM


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