Bleached jeans and frantic boogeying

Spinnaker

White Denim brings cheer to Cafe Eleven patrons

All throughout high school, for me, for the most part, it was style over safety. So it goes without saying (even though I will anyway) that I never much considered ear plugs throughout my Beta Bar-rat escapades. I never even listened to my boyfriend-of-the-time, a virtuoso musician himself, insist that concerts are actually best heard with plugged ears since the sound people and band mix levels to sound good with their own ears plugged.

Finally, circa age 19, I noticed an unshakable ringing in my ears whenever I was surrounded in what was otherwise silence. OK, I thought to myself, time to actually step it up.

I feel I’ve been pretty consistent in my ear plugging during shows since, typically keeping a pair in an empty film canister in my purse at all times. However, as I inched closer to Neptune Beach where I planned to meet with friends before heading slightly further south to see White Denim, I realized this time I forgot.

Wow. I had suspected whilst crankin’ White Denim’s latest release, “Fits,” that this band might be loud. Correct-o-mundo.

I must preface with the fact that I am positively ashamed that I managed to miss this fabulous release that first entered our country back in June. The album embodies some sort of demonic rockabilly fused with surfy-sometimes-jazzy guitar, resulting in PURE DANCE MANIA. ‘Fit’ proves itself as one of my personal favorites of 2K9. Seriously, dudes. Do yourself a favor and stream this piece via Grooveshark as soon as humanly possible.

The Café Eleven show only asked for 8 bucks to get you in … something that has grown to unheard-of proportions – even for a local show – in Actionville.

I had only caught about two songs from the opening band (and fellow Austinites), Brazos, prior to our touchdown in that gorgeous, gravel lot.

Brazos, Spanish for “arms,” presented themselves as a vision of muted colors and gut-rattling basslines. Everything about the tunes played organically, like a poppier, log-cabin Fugazi or something. They played a few ditties to a progressively more hushed house of folks. As if the lead singer wasn’t super appealing enough with his smooth, unpretentious delivery and glimmering guitar bits, oozing such sincere passion- he sidled over to a beat-up, parlor-style piano. He leaned over the machine like a little, tan crow, feeling the keys and the product of his pounding them for the first time.

“There is nothing sexier than a boy on piano,” my friend Devin shouted into my ear. Noted.

The three bandmates exhibited such a refreshing enthusiasm for the music they were making, the place where they were perched, the people watching, struck with awe. They were such a logical choice to open. I feel bad for kids that arrived just after their set wrapped up.

Then White Denim took the stage. Just for the record, none of the band actually sported a single piece of bleached jean (although the drummer did rock a plain white T, hardy har har).

The floor tom trembled the entirely of the trio’s performance, mirroring the audience’s faces. The group, to me, consists of so many elements melted together from various bands my heart already sang for. They’ll be playing something with the testosterone of Black Keys’ stegosaurus percussion, quickly warping into the sinister, haunting shadow of Black Sabbath. Lead singer James Petralli often brings to mind the spastic vocals of Arrington de Dionyso of Old Time Relijun that practically beg for an equally spastic dance sesh to accompany them.

Despite a monitor drop a song and a half in, they managed to set ablaze the modest stage in the most humbling way, drenching the crowd in crackling, electric synapses. Petralli alternated his jimmy legs, annihilating imaginary ants between frequent effect-pedal stomps. Bassist Steve Terebecki was a vision of charcoal, moving his entire body as one entity, rosy cheeks and all. Josh Block blast the drums with precision and concern showing itself in his eight, well-worn forehead wrinkles whenever he glanced up from his kit.

Highlights include “Let’s Talk About It,” painting a pretty panic-attack and the infectious “I Start to Run.”

Denim’s songs bleed into each other, forming a fluid symphony of sizzling sound.

Two particularly enthusiastic fans at the very lip of the stage helped really set the bar when it came to boogeying with their incessant headbanging and the occasional Running Man. I suppose I can really only speak for the front of the venue, but the groove seemed to saturate everyone’s soul, forcing them to get way down.

So despite the hearing loss I may have suffered from my evening with the boys of White Denim – seriously, now, 12 hours later, my ears feel sort of stuffed with cotton — I’d call the experience damn worth it.

White Denim, taking their health very seriously.