[LIVE REVIEW] White Denim @ Stubb's
We've been lucky enough to see White Denim three times over the past year. The first time during CMJ, and secondly in London's Village Underground, but seeing them in their home town of Austin has to have topped them all.
Austin's famous Stubb's BBQ was the perfect, dusty location to host these Texas rockers. The outdoor stage, on a hot night, with a crowd of locals was a wholesome and refreshing change to the madness of SXSW a week or so earlier where Nicolas Cage and his minions were barging their way through crowds demanding to be let in to PayPal's 'exclusive party' where Snoop Lion was playing.
There's this rule at live shows, where photographers are only allowed in to the photo pit up front for the first three songs so the artist 'looks their best', before they get all sweaty and dishevelled. It's a shame because in all honesty the sweaty moments would probably make the best photos. And let me tell you, absolutely everything about this show was sweaty. The band was dripping, the bouncers were sweaty, I was a hot mess, I'm sure even the people up in their little VIP box were at the very least sticky. This is the way it should be, you're not working hard enough if you aren't sweaty, right? And this hot night in Austin, on their own turf, White Denim were absolutely going for it.
The guys are tight. I don't mean that in a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air way. They are completely in sync. And not the Justin Timberlake kind (sorry - can't seem to explain this without 1990's references). They just have this well-trained, well disciplined synchronisation that means they play everything flawlessly and completely in time with each other, despite the fact that not even your eyes can keep up with their hand movements. I don't think I've ever seen fingers move so fast. It's kind of hypnotic, like the spirit of jazz moves within these men and compels them to keep playing, and playing, and playing.
They kicked off the evening with a selection of tracks off of their latest album Corsicana Lemonade, before moving on to a ton of their older stuff, and we were lucky enough to be up the front amongst all the die-hard fans. There were of course a great many jam moments, mind-blowing solos, and what I have decided to call 'guitar wizard duels' because of their skillful, jazz-trained fingers. James and Austin would catch each other's eyes from across the stage and jump in to some sort of back and forth battle that even Jack Black would be envious of. You could almost see lightning rods coming out of their guitars. Ok, maybe I'm taking this guitar wizard joke too far, but it probably didn't help that the air was heavy with the temptation of rain and possibly a thunderstorm. That shit was atmospheric.
After touring their album all over the world, they must have been glad to be back home, and as the night rolled on and their sound carried out in to the hot night sky, you could tell the city was glad to have them back.