White Denim, Hundred Visions, Soviet The Granada Thursday, April 5
White Denim has a history of stealing the show for me. I first saw them what feels like one million years ago at Pastime Tavern. The Internet tells me this was actually 2009: I got there early to catch openers PVC Street Gang, but arrived just as they were ending. My friends had already started sipping the Kool-Aid, despite it being a Gorilla vs. Bear show, so I decided to skip the cover and listen from the bar. By the end of White Denim's first song, conversation was interrupted and I immediately got up, paid cover and scooted to the front.
Again, last summer at Gorilla vs. Bear fest, I spent the evening itching to see them, but became convinced no one could top the Shabazz Palaces showing that night. This was before the Preteen Zenith meltdown of '11, and before White Denim played a fast, late set that very literally saved the day.
White Denim has been over-described, but for me, they are exactly what I wish jam bands were. The Austin quartet may be all over the place in terms of genre, but they are focused in execution.
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Not unlike punk bands whose aesthetic changes as they become more competent on their instruments, White Denim has tossed their JV charms for varsity tightness. You can hear it in their arrangements and those seamless transitions; you can see it in the non-verbal inside jokes they seem to trade onstage. James Petralli's voice has never sounded better, and the soaring "Street Joy" in particular was enhanced by his smart dynamic play.
The bros in tow were appearing in all manner of conversation, real and virtual, throughout the night. It occurred to me White Denim seem set to inherit the throne of Spoon or even Dave Matthews Band, in that they have evolved from scrappy jammers to filling venues such as the Granada in roughly five years, and crossed over in appeal. White Denim had an interesting combo, a fantastic set and a new audience. For the first time, they didn't steal the show. They didn't have to.
Notebook dump: The reason everyone in the audience was having a great time is because everyone on that stage was having a great time.
Overheard: "I just always want to be at this concert, man."