As I’ve mentioned before White Denim are, in my view, the most exciting guitar band in the world right now.
They played the Forum in Kentish Town, London, on Tuesday, and nothing I saw or heard led me to change my mind.
They walk onto the stage without a word. And that’s as talkative as they get. They don’t it appears, do banter.
They plug in and they’re off. The first 20 or so minutes rush by. Songs merge from one to another. It’s less a gig in the conventional sense, more of a live mixtape in the making.
They have come from Austin, Texas and play a frenetic and mind-bending strain of psychedelic garage rock.
There *are* lyrics and James Petralli *does* sing but that’s almost beside the point. Live, White Denim are a red-hot and relentless instrumental band with songs that happen to have the occasional words.
Much more so than on their albums, on stage it’s all about the music, the interplay between Petralli, Steve Terebecki on bass, Joshua Block on drums and the young Link Wray-looking Austin Jenkins on second guitar. They’re musical ninjas. Or Jedis. Or something. Bafflingly good anyway.
Musically, it’s as if they have the attention span of an excited puppy not knowing whether to chase its tail, a stick or bark at its own reflection in a mirror.
This one’s a bit jazzy, this one’s like punky Hendrix , this one a New Wave Zappa mash-up, this one a dubby Stooges…
Songs come and go and come back again — songs that barely settle into one groove or lock into a hook before it’s onto the next one. For the audience, picking out song titles is an exercise in itself – familiar licks appear like faces out of the fog.
They definitely played most of 2011 album D, a fair dose of Last Days Of Summer from the same year (or is it 2010? Depends if you got it on the free download) and at least some of Fits from 2009.
And if memory serves, they finish with Shake Shake Shake from 2008’s Workout Holiday. At which point the crowd flips.
They say thanks and wander off. It’s the only thing they’ve said all night. But they’re grinning like Cheshire cats and covered in sweat. Catch them live if you can, there’s no one quite like them.
Otherwise, here they are, live in their home town last year.