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Friday, September 13, 2013

White Denim, Bowery Ballroom 9.10.13

White Denim, jamming, 9.10.13 Bowery Ballroom

News flash:  There are not enough hours in the day.

How can one expect to hear every band, or every song?  Even if that was my full time profession (clearly it is not) it would still be impossible to know EVERYTHING about today's music scene.  Brooklyn VeganPitchfork, and Stereogum all pretend to know, and will do all they can to shame you for you for not knowing.  But they don't have all the information.   At their best they are no more an authority on what you like, than you yourself.

What those outlets have, and others like them, is resources.  They can send tight jean wearing men with larger than life cameras (compensating for something guys??) and note pads to venues in and around the City.   Their employees are also keen on social media.  Their power is spreading the word, no matter what that word is.  This week they dissected Arcade Fire's "Reflektor".   Next week, Queens of the Stone Age, Metallica at The Apollo, or whatever offensive thing Chris Brown is up to (including his music.)  The alt music news cycle is as vicious as your night time cable news.   Gone are the days you can have a meltdown on stage and shake it off.  Do that and Twitter will speculate on the reasons why and take a shot at writing your rock and roll obituary.   "He/She is too depressed."  "They are not getting along."  "Their A&R man said I don't hear a single."

Occasionally the "powers" that be work with you.  It is through one of those sources I ran across an invite to see Austin, TX rockers White Denim play Bowery Ballroom.  A free show sponsored by Rolling Stone magazine and StubHub said the ad.  Never mind I have not read a Rolling Stone music review since 1994  and StubHub amounts to nothing more than a dime store whore for its ludicrously wealthy pimp called ticket brokering.

It's a free show at a terrific venue.  How can you go wrong?  Except of course with the sitter, and work, and school...  bla, bla, bla.  That's another story.  You just make it work damn it!

And White Denim is, if not already validated, a bona fide up and comer in the alt community.  Their 6th LP, the poorly titled Corsicana Lemonade will be released 10.29.13.  The first single, "Pretty Green", has a grit, tenacity and wonderful hook not unlike your favorite Black Keys song.   Blues/Rock/Psychedelia.  It's all here.

They are another band gleefully unconcerned with re-inventing the wheel.

They follow a successful pattern you can find in most Rock and Roll 101 textbooks.   Write some pretty good songs and perform them well live.

James Petralli does the singer/guitarist/front man thing.  He trades licks with Austin Jackson (Austin from Austin- awkward.)  Steven Terebecki (bass)  and Joshua Block (drums) complete the band.  They may look young, but their set Tuesday 9.10.13 displayed a confident and cohesive sound.  They opened with "Green" and absolutely nailed it.  Petralli's voice is strong and Bowery's sound was in top form.  This is a their most "pop" or mainstream sounding song, and it worked so well.  It just might have set the bar too high.  It was great to hear a band's fresh single start a show.  It can backfire if you perform it too well and fail to recapture its energy later in the show.

More often than not the band took a decidedly "jam" turn.  The new record was well represented and it guitar friendly.  The only banter between songs was absent, save for something succinct,  like "This is another new one."

Within more than a handful of songs moments like this erupted.   Lest you forget, this is NOT a pop band.  They want to play those guitars.  They want to rock that bass.  Indeed,  there was some drumming too.

The set was marked with some special moments.  Some of Patralli and Jackson's guitar showdowns appealed to a visceral spot deep in my core.  There were some quieter moments too.  Some of their mid song sojourns simply fell short.   Around an hour or so in it began the whole thing started to dim.

Was it the crowd?  Showcase things like this are always dangerous.  Free is great, don't get me wrong.  But free brings out a weird mix of folks.   Before the show, those closest to stage clearly had no idea who they were seeing, or maybe even where they were.  Much of the audience were employees of the host sponsors.  To further illustrate my earlier thoughts on those who cover the music industry, they are a timid group of people.   Most were there for the event, not the music.  

Amanda Bynes would have been embarrassed at the amount of selfies and group pics taken.

Usually a Tuesday night show, especially at a small club, would bring out a band's hard core fans.  Those folks would in turn, provide an added level of energy to the proceedings.

For too long that energy was lacking at Bowery.

Not the end of the World.  And by no means an indictment on White Denim.

A good night for sure.  Just not a great one.

James Petralli of White Denim

Nice, simple packaging.  

They had more room if they needed it, but White Denim kept it close.

White Denim, (l to right)Austin Jackson, Steven Terebecki, Joshua Block and James Petralli

My 1 minute clip. White Denim jamming.

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