Like most alternative bands these days, White Denim has been described with at least eight different combinations ending in the word rock. From psychedelic, blues, punk and progressive to soul, jazz and experimental, the group truly does encompass small elements of most of these categories.
The Austin-based band kicked-off their winter tour in Colorado this week, starting out at the Bluebird Theater in Denver on Monday, Jan. 27, and headlining Boulder's Fox Theatre on Tuesday, Jan 28. What really seemed to come across on night two is a southern, progressive rock band. I guess that would make them psychedelic and experimental, too. Oh, and you can't really have southern rock without the blues. Turns out, the band justified all those labels.
The quartet, which consists of two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer, came out with the new album Corsicana Lemonade in October 2013, only a few days after opening for break-out band Tame Impala at the Boulder Theater.
There was plenty of room to move on the dance floor at the Fox - a rarity at the tiny venue - and most of the crowd seemed thoroughly pleased, happily dancing and singing along. The Texas group showed off their southern style while adding in some seriously progressive jams and solos. They played the songs "Come Back" and "Corsicana Lemonade" off of the new album, which featured more soulful vocals and funky guitar melodies. However the highlight of the show seemed to be the more rock-driven 2008 single "Shake Shake Shake," starting off with a speedy guitar - probably the closest to an inkling of a punk sound — and slightly more hard-hitting riffs and solos that got some more energy out of the crowd.
It is immediately clear that all four of these guys know how to play their instruments very well. The majority of the songs featured blues-based guitar melodies while the raspy, southern vocals came across rather soft on stage. The extended jams made for interesting yet unusual song structures, but they never hit hard or made you want to holler like true blues do.
This album decides the group's movement towards soulful and experimental rock, which should have turned up the heat on live performances. However, they did not seem to be able to shake their southern-progressive roots at the show. The night's opener Moon Taxi has also been known to bend genres, however they differentiated themselves in this show by having some more stage presence to back up the sound.
Any group coming out of Music City should at least know how to put on a show, and the Nashville-based Moon Taxi did not fall short with frontman Trevor Terndrup's lively spirit, jumping off of equipment and head-banging throughout an array of catchy songs. The group has been described as indie and played an undeniably progressive rock show at the Fox.
If you listen to White Denim's recording of Corsicana Lemonade, the first couple songs sound like something you could really get down to at a live show. However the band's performance simply did not match the energy of its album. In this case a group with strong vocals and clearly talented musicians across the board was out-performed by a more energetic and daring show by the first act.
Check them out and decide for your self when White Denim performs as the musical guest on Conan O'Brien's show this upcoming Thursday, February 6. You can also watch Moon Taxi's 2013 television debut on The Late Show with David Letterman.