White Denim was greeted by a white night when they dropped into a snow-covered Bluebird Theater Monday night for the start of their 2014 “Corsicana Lemonade” tour. But cold as it was outside, the Austin four-piece brought the heat with furiously paced genre amalgams.
The band has been hailed as the compromise between two styles of music once thought irreconcilable: indie rock and jam. With extended solos sitting behind every chorus and nifty songwriting, White Denim represented both of their constituent groups well on Monday evening to an all-but packed house.
After Nashville’s Moon Taxi ended their set with a rendition of “Cabaret” that could’ve blown out the speakers, White Denim took the stage at 9:40 p.m. with “Corsicana Lemonade” opener “At Night In Dreams” and a less aggressive volume. Though they tweaked the sound over the course of the night, you had to be in the first two tiers of the theatre to experience the show as a rock show should be: loud, immersive and sweaty. But even in the stage dive zone, it was difficult to make out frontman James Petralli’s vocals, especially on older songs like “Drug” and speedy numbers from “Fits.” White Denim is supposed to be a live band, and it was disappointing to hear this facet of their sound do more to distract the listener than snap them up.
Smooth pop-standard oddity “A Place To Start” came around the halfway mark, and was the tightest song of the night. The band seemed to realize it. “We’re working it out,” Petralli said. “It’s the first day of our tour.”
The second half of the set featured an even split of older material, including a highlight-worthy version of “It’s Him!” from 2011’s “D,” and remaining “Corsicana Lemonade” songs they hadn’t yet picked off. A set-closing run at “Come Back,” a song as riff-laden as any Guitar Hero level, left the crowd high and ready for the three-song encore of “Pretty Green” and a “Distant Relative Salute”/”All You Really Have To Do” hybrid.
Though they have some kinks to work out sound-wise, White Denim kicked off their new tour to an impressive and appreciative crowd Monday night. “Corsicana Lemonade” is their hookiest album yet, and will serve as a solid base of songs going forward in the tour—especially when the band irons out their EQ kinks.
Dylan Owens is Reverb’s all-purpose news blogger and album reviewer. You can read more from him in Relix magazine and the comment sections of WORLDSTARHIPHOP.
Ty Hyten is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.