The ethos of Austin, TX’s White Denim, if such a thing exists, must have something to do with peace, or a wholesome good time. The band’s straightforward, catchy psychedelic indie garage rock harkens back to a ’60s Jefferson Airplane-ish sound—clean, comprehensible, innoffensive—but without so much overwhelming California “You’re My Best Friend” stuff. In concert, White Denim is much the same, hosting what may one day qualify as a “classic indie rock show” at New York’s Bowery Ballroom. No pyrotechnics, protesting, wild-n-outing, screaming, punching, stage diving, moshing, or any form of semi-hardcore debauchery. Chatting, mingling, rock-music-dancing, sure.
Although it may not be a crazy guitar-burning or stage diving group, White Denim distinguishes itself from similar bands (any kind of white guy rock band) with a penchant for heady, tight solos. Even one of the opening bands, the London group Mazes, sounded quite a lot like White Denim, but with less of a psychedelic component. Mazes played to a half-full ballroom, sometimes dawdling to chat with the growing crowd between songs, whereas White Denim never took a moment to lose any steam. The headliners charged into song after song, keeping the sound tight and the energy focused as opposed to rowdy or raunchy.
The band members themselves seemed to fit right into the audience demographic: cute, pseudo-nerd indie guys who like to bare their souls with their guitars and drums. The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday was filled with fellow indie rock nerds, their girlfriends, and occasionally a pair of parents with their indie rock nerd son and his girlfiriend. Maybe not a party-hard kind of crowd, but a good natured kind of show.
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