ACL Live Shot: White Denim

Less wild means more refined – intricate, subtle

White Denim frontman James Petralli
White Denim frontman James Petralli
photo by Shelley Hiam

Last month, guitarist James Petralli told the Chronicle that White Denim’s recent popularity would limit how experimental the band could get live. “I don’t think we could get away with playing ‘Darksided Computer Mouth’ … at the Fillmore,” he said. “I don’t think that would translate.”

Anybody lamenting White Denim’s shift into sanity is currently short-selling the band’s new material.

What’s less wild is more refined – more intricate, more subtle. It’s granted Petralli more space to stretch out, and the best rhythm section in Texas more context to climb into. It’s not as cold-cocked and created for chaos like Workout Holiday or 2007’s still-stunning Let’s Talk About It EP, but Corsicana Lemonade, out Oct. 29, packs serious chop-busting muscle.

Sunday afternoon, Corsicana Lemonade tracks “Come Back,” “Pretty Green,” and “Distant Relative Salute” sliced straight into staples “Anvil Everything” and “I Start to Run” before the band clocked into CL opener “At Night in Dreams” and opened the curtain on a five-song medley covering each of their American-released albums.

Fits mystery “Mirrored and Reverse” settled into D’s “Drug,” which doubled into Exposion jump-off “All You Really Have to Do.” Petralli was handling his guitar by then, swinging it left of his body as bassist Steve Terebecki rattled repetitively on a familiar line.

He’d already teased the line before “Drug.” At the last minute, White Denim dug into “Mess Your Hair Up,” that relentless and entirely out-of-control track off Let’s Talk About It, the same EP that housed “Darksided Computer Mouth.” True dudes can only stay away for so long.

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