REVIEW gig Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha
Are White Denim this generation’s Grand Funk Railroad?
White Denim @ Shepherd's Bush Empire - 28th May 2014 - 8/10White Denim were such an exciting prospect when they first appeared. I remember catching them at the Mighty Boosh Festival, their music splintered into so many directions based on a core set of influences that touched everyone watching. Their bassist looked like someone else would have to buy his beer, the guitarist sounded like he was pretty baked and the drummer was the most mesmerising and inventive musician in the band, giving the band a directness and solid groove base for their punky-jam-rock styling. The band’s next LP (‘Fits’) still ploughed the thrashier side of their influences, but introduced a better understanding of dynamics and melody, but since then the band have maybe loosened up a bit, introduced more of their live jamming into the studio and taken a more soulful/southern rock approach to their new music (with a psych-spin, as per usual with all their tunes). Personally, I’ve found myself skipping tracks more on their latter releases, but after tonight, maybe I’ve been doing the band a great disservice.
It’s not that the songs are bad, but maybe sometimes they end up in the realms of pastiche rather than genuine inventiveness. You’re thinking more about what influenced that song, rather than how exciting and new it sounds. Live though, these songs really reach different dimensions, the band loosen up some more and their fluid jamming takes on a whole different role, with moments descending into something exciting and fresh (especially when viewed from the front), whilst still being the same song I probably found myself skipping previously. Shame on me!
Ultimately though, when they play tracks from those first three albums, the band muster a different type of energy, instead of standing there slack-jawed at the intense musicianship and inter-band-relationship on stage, your eyes shut and you find yourself moving more, lost in a totally different headspace, expectant but totally engaged by everything going on, usually all at once. The band are exciting to watch, offering something different each show and progressing musically with each and every release. If only more bands could live this daringly, maybe the mainstream music world wouldn’t be so damn predictable…