The Power of Three, Twice

November 13th, 2009

White Denim/Brazos – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 12, 2009

White Denim

White Denim

In my opinion, Austin, Texas, is one of the truly great American cities, seamlessly patching together disparate archetypes into one coherent, unique population. Last night, two Austin bands rocked Music Hall of Williamsburg with music that carried on the mash-up spirit of their hometown. Ostensibly, the only thing they had in common was that both are guitar-bass-drum trios from the same city, but, taking a step back, you could see how each tied together a wide range of sounds and influences that became their own distinct music. You could break down each bit if you wanted to, but that would defeat the purpose.

The headliner was White Denim. Guitarist-vocalist James Petralli began by setting up several overlapping loops with his guitar to immediately densify the sound. I was not expecting that. Over 20 minutes, a broken guitar string and plenty of awe-inspiring face-melt rock later, they finally took their first pause before quickly diving back into it. They repeated this routine thrice—was it three 20-minute songs or 20 three-minute songs strung together with virtuoso segue and genre-defying sound? Doesn’t matter. The music expertly flip-flopped through styles until all influences were invisible. In true power-trio form, each musician seemed to add more than one-third of the sound, amplifying the music to an awesome better-than-its-parts level. Their new release, Fits, while highly recommended, is a coy hint of the live show’s intensity.

The opener, Brazos, was the stripped-down, dreamy groove-pop version of the same blind-influence mash. Keep an eye on these guys. Highlighted by a greased-pig bass that surprised me with its slipperiness, the trio got quite a bit of bounce out of its sound. After their too-short set, the crowd gave a hearty applause befitting a headliner. —A. Stein