Smoking hot take: there’s more noise in music circles around what White Denim once was (a lightning-in-a-bottle classic-indie-jamband mega-hybrid supernova of brilliance) than what they currently are (the picture of arty yet tuneful, rock-n-roll consistency). I think we can still celebrate the shining moment of D without discounting the institutionally solid band they’ve become.
Perhaps some folks can't wrap their head around the fact that the band’s lineup changed around James Petralli right in the midst of such an indescribable music peak. The changes weren’t necessarily taken in stride and White Denim just kind of slipped into neutral. But once the band found its footing, it regrouped and put out a number of solid LPs, including this summer’s Performance, that harnesses Petralli’s 21st-century soul-singer-cum-rocker magnetism in nine concise party-ready rave-ups.
Live, the band remains uncompromising. Running through two dozen songs than leaned heavily on Performance, but didn’t shy away from favorites even going back to the glorious D. While House Of Blues may seem to be a bit corporate for a band that levitated Metro and Lincoln Hall in early 10s Chicago visits, the artful yet accessible aesthetic does seem to share some sensibilities with this version of the band.
Newer tunes like “Double Death” and “It Might Get Dark” were a true showcase for this version of the group, replacing dual-guitar heroics with some atmospheric textures, without giving up the big set of balls that have always sat firmly in the band's wheelhouse.
Rotem Sivam has been opening on this tour, and his set provided an interesting contrast in dynamics while gelling with White Denim's still experimental side.