White Denim at Whelan’s, Dublin, 10 February 2019
Some bands like to have a walk-on song to introduce them to the stage. Mostly atmospheric and airy background music. But not White Denim. As the Texas four-piece enter the stage of a sold-out Whelan’s, with Sandstorm by Darude booming through the speakers. A cheeky grin to the audience and the band kick into Sky Beaming from their 2018 LP ‘Performance.’
Twenty seconds in, singer James Petralli stops the band: “Sorry, false start. I really wanna hit those notes,” as he points to his guitar. But with an apologetic charm, he continues: “I just completely blew the impact of Sandstorm…but let’s do it again.”
What’s most impressive is how the band seamlessly group many of their tracks together without stopping, resulting in a disco sensibility to a rock set. With the band’s sound mostly a mix of rock, blues and funk, the set is a no-nonsense on-going party of songs. Which plays well for a band with a discography stretching over more than ten years.
Although there are not many opportunities to go get a pint, it seems the crowd are all too happy to lock eyes with the stage for the entirety of the show. Impressive solo breaks and rhythm changes, in tracks like Backstreet Driver and Back At The Farm, captivate the on-looking head-rocking masses.
With White Denim’s textbook song structures of ever-jinking rhythms and section changes, drummer Greg Clifford and bassist Steve Terebecki are on-hand, keeping everything tight and contained. This strong base gives Petralli the freedom to invigorate the room with his expressive guitar playing. Particularly on the fast-paced track Move On, where we also see Petralli fluidly jump in and out of unison with Michael Hunter on keys.
The band are obviously keen on letting the music stand for itself, as there is not much crowd interaction – bar the opening faux pas. Adding to this upfront rock show and avoiding the somewhat patronising groans, the band play their unannounced last song, before entering the stage once more for the encore.
After thanking the audience for “sticking around,” the band end the set with Fine Slime and the crowd favourite Shake Shake Shake. Front-row headbanging is in full swing as these humble rockers uplift the room once again, ending a night of gutsy no-nonsense rock.