Audiences just want something unique. Every live concert they see they don’t want to yawn my way through a set and unfortunately this happens far too often. Countless bands represent what they do on their releases perfectly adequately but fail to add anything with their live performances. Kansas City’s Freight Train Rabbit Killer is an exception to this. They put tons of effort into their live shows in an attempt to standout and make their shows unique experiences for their audiences.
Let’s start by getting out of the way that the way they do it is weird. Some people simply won’t get it. To match their spirit summoning music they dress in rabbit adorned garb with a rough, thrift store look to it. They wear masks based upon rabbits and trains throughout their performances adding to the impact of their music, their outfits tie in with the themes within their music. They sell merchandise of creepy rabbit head magnets and masks and encourage their audience to wear them during the shows. The Muny Inn in St. Joseph is becoming a home away from home for the oddball band. Their show doesn’t work for all crowds but it seems like the Muny crowd summons just the right amount of weird to let the group fully indulge in their stage show.
On this night the opener, Cupcake, was a no-show so Freight Train Rabbit Killer decided to open for themselves. Their first set was maskless and consisted of some old blues covers and songs that didn’t quite fit in with the Freight Train dreamscape. The duo consisting of Kristopher Bruders and Mark Smeltzer pounded out dancy blues cover backed by local Brian Shank inserting himself on drums. They howled out old blues songs like Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters did decades ago. At times getting the crowd quite worked up like when they requested some chicken dancing while they sang and chanted “ain’t no chicken in the barnyard.”
After a break the true Freight Train Rabbit Killer show started. Tales of police brutality anchor “Old American Law” and religion struggles to survive on “Saw Brother Judas” and “Satan, Your Kingdom is Calling You Home.” The heavily distorted dual guitars they play are really in full force when the full show is happening, garb and all. The coats with hundreds of rabbits painted on them and the creepy rabbit and train masks really add a whole dimension to the show. The mood of the music and dark and murky with rough vocals blasting out from behind the distortion. Brian Shank, shirtless and pantsless this time for some reason, would come join the duo once again for the final couple songs of the set. The finally of “Little Black Train” proved to be a crowd favorite as always and got the Muny in one final big stir before thing would return to semi-normal at the small bar. Anyone who was there will remember that show and that is the greatest thing about it. The band has good songs and perform well live, the theatrics of the show only solidify how memorable one of their show truly is.