Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Jan. 20, 2012
White DenimHotel Vegas, Jan. 13
Unlucky only in that East Sixth Street's intimate new dive accommodates less than 175 revelers, White Denim's Friday the 13th sellout at Hotel Vegas might have proved the local show of 2012 already. If the exhilarating local quartet had played a seven-night stand there, two sets without an opener as was the case here, every performance would've no doubt qualified. Such is the thrill of any set-list-free White Denim squall. Singer James Petralli's hollow-body Gibson guitar emits airy, jazz-courting tones that meet his high, soft tenor in a musical ozone that can only be called Grateful Dead-like. Second guitarist Austin Jenkins, bass current Steve Terebecki, and Levon Helm-like backbone Josh Block groove a fierce sonic juggernaut that proves somehow less steam engine (heavy) inevitable than a grin-inducing pillow to the kisser. With Philly soul, a Strokes or two, and seamless shifts of tempo and melody reminiscent of the Band, White Denim makes every jam sound 10 minutes too short. As an initial trio, the group's interlocking live engagement began at explosive. In a foursome, White Denim builds to that same point, and once achieved, breaks on through to another side of the alchemical stratosphere. Toward the finish of the first 45-minute set, "Street Joy," standout from universal 2011 Top 10 LP D, downshifted with all the muffler turbulence of a high-performance roadster. The second set escalated D to the point where the evening's DJ pulled out a copy of the MC5's Kick Out the Jams 10 minutes into the hour-long second half and then never took his eyes off the band. Fits inducer "I Start To Run" and "Drug" unleashed furious R&B beatdowns not witnessed since the Who at the Isle of Wight, drummer Block rolling Keith Moon on his small kit. White Denim, now opening for Wilco.