LIVE: Rabbit in the Rye, Lake Moraine, 10/02/2021
Alex Lavon, Brendan O’Connor and Joseph Mettler who comprise the folk rock trio Rabbit In The Rye played a special show on Lake Moraine in Hamilton for a captive audience on October 2nd. It felt almost like a summer day with spectacular weather though the Upstate fall was captured in the reflection of the changing leaves that backdropped the band on the shimmering lake water. One of the brightest moments, during this ongoing pandemic, commenced for 3 straight hours of incredible original tunes from the band’s catalog both old and new this past Saturday.
Though this show was not publicized, friends and family of the band lined the shores to soak in the beautiful sunset and every last note. It was one of those magical nights where the audience yearned for each note and breath over the microphone. Over the course of Rabbit In The Rye’s over a decade long tenure, the band had taken many shapes. However, when Mettler met O’Connor and soon after Lavon, the trio was set in stone. The band soon had a large following in New York and even toured extensively covering a lot of territory while they became best friends. That friendship could be seen on stage and heard in all their recordings as they found their voice and forged their own sound. The backline of Lavon on bass, O’Connor on drums (and sometimes mandolin) drove these songs to new heights. Mettler’s songwriting is top notch along with the greats of Dylan, Prine, Isakov and his voice made believers of all who were fortunate to see this band blow the doors off of every venue they played or lullaby the sweetest smile out of any “grinch.”
It was incredible for those that have devoutly followed this group watched in awe at how quickly they picked up cues from each other and how sweetly their harmonies complimented each other. Perhaps another shining silver lining of their deep friendships. Simply listen to “The Girl Who Cried Wolf” from their album Kindling, which had this weekend’s audience singing and howling along for a beautiful example. The age old joke that bands have “bathroom songs” does not fit into any category of the albums, live recordings and music videos Rabbit In The Rye have produced. Instead, the compliment exists, which very few bands that have lasted as long as these gentlemen can say, they truly do not have a bad song.
Those lucky enough to be in attendance were treated too much of the catalog they knew. While Rabbit In The Rye had been in a hiatus for a few years, it sounded as if they rehearsed every day since the start of the pandemic. Besides a few cute puppies barking, a toddler falling while hula hooping, or a glass of ice spilled, every single note was crystal clear. The entire set was originals and they even added a few new tunes that nobody had ever heard live. One can only hope these make it onto recordings one day.
Though the band’s future is unclear, each member will work in music in some way or another. One thing that is for sure, as the shores of Lake Moraine broke into dancing, humungous smiles and thunderous applause whatever spirits the band getting back together for this special show brought out the sunshine from above and into each audience members heart. For this writer, I can honestly say this was one of the top five musical moments of my life. As we all travel through the complications of life, it is hard to predict if Rabbit In The Rye will ever play again, but as Shel Silverstein says “Anything is possible child, anything can be.” The fans of the band will at least have a most memorable concert to say farewell to one of the best, most inclusive and humble bands that have existed. Those that stayed for the campfire acoustic section, well there are no words that can capture that. In the rapturous rays of Upstate New York, we certainly found there can be gold in these hills with the wonderful fellas from Rabbit In The Rye.
At this point, we as writers sometimes list key tracks to check out. Between their two albums and live recordings, you cannot go wrong. I would encourage you to try it all. Thank you for the music gentlemen.