A few months ago I went to see the XX, a young band that won just about every award available in the British music industry this year. Everything about that band is minimal and sparse, from their name to their guitar parts to their beats. They don’t even have a guy playing drums, just a guy playing percussion noises on a sampler. And it works. But I noticed that the audience got most excited near the end of the set, when one song reached a crescendo and the bass player picked up some sticks and started bashing away on a cymbal. There’s nothing like watching and listening to people hit things with sticks.
White Rabbits knows something about that. They often play with two complete drum kits onstage and sometimes with three or more members playing percussion. In parts of the aptly titled song “Percussion Gun,” even the guitars sound more like drums than stringed instruments. The first time I heard the song, I felt certain it was built on a sample from the famous Drummers of Burundi — Adam and the Ants and Bow Wow Wow built their careers sampling that African group. But apparently it’s just the White Rabbits making that awesome racket. Onstage, it’s an incredible sight to see and an exhilarating thing to hear.
Originally from Columbia, Missouri, the band now lives in Brooklyn and tours with the likes of the Walkmen and Spoon. Spoon’s Britt Daniel produced the band’s sophomore album, It’s Frightening, with some of his characteristic sense of space. That means we don’t get overwhelming percussion in every song, but when we do, it’s tremendous.
WHITE RABBITS: Soma, Thursday, October 21, 7 p.m. $25. 619-226-7662.