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Matthew E. White Hits Another Home Run in Brooklyn

August 10th, 2015

Matthew E. White – Rough Trade NYC – August 7, 2015

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Matthew E. White has been making himself pretty comfortable in Brooklyn this year. Friday night’s set at Rough Trade NYC was his third trip to the borough in 2015, and judging how the show went, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was another one in the not too distant future. Before White and his band took the stage, though, they joined the crowd in enjoying the eye-opening warm-up set from Sleepwalkers, who almost immediately won over the crowd with a slick one-two opening segue and kept it going with an impressive array of high-energy genre hopping.

Returning dressed in suits, White and his band were instantly at home again, opening with a noodle-y two-guitar intro to “Tranquility,” off of his new Fresh Blood LP. Alan Parker matched White on guitar as the song took form before the rest of the band kicked in to the mix. “One of These Days” was an early set tutorial in the highs and lows of White’s sound, his whispered vocals became impassioned screams and back again, the groove whipped to a puree by the blender bass of Cameron Ralston, and extended instrumental passages reaching multiple peaks. Although it felt impossible to top that climactic second song, they did their best, following with “Vision,” which opened with White softly singing, “Nobody in the world is better than us,” and finished with drummer Pinson Chanselle slamming his way through a rocking jam-out.

The remainder of the set balanced deep grooves and ecstatic rock, each song taking things to the warning track, most of them sailing easily over the fence. A cover of the Velvet Underground’s “White Light/White Heat” opened into a lengthy, exhilarating noise jam that flipped to the sexy, bedroom soul of “Take Care My Baby,” followed by “Steady Pace” and an ensuing, intense Marvin Gaye–meets–the Who moment. Things grew even more raucous for “Feeling Good Is Good Enough,” White inviting members of Sleepwalkers up for an unplanned sit-in, leading the crowd in a boisterous sing-along before Parker hopped on the floor to engage in a fiery guitar duel. Finally closing with an everybody-dance-now version of “Rock & Roll Is Cold,” the comfort level was at an all time high for White and Brooklyn both. —A. Stein | @Neddyo