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White Denim
Live review...
White Denim, Strait Laces
Ok, that isn't dawn, it's just still light outside because it's midsummer. It's worth reminding yourself about this because of the time-travelling experience that's just gone on, because you could quite easily have imagined yourself back in the late 1960s or early 1970s in there.

But, before we go all Doctor Who, Strait Laces introduce us to the evening with a bit of contemporary locality. 'No Mistake' elicits happy yelps from the smallish crowd at this early hour, its punky goodness cut with We Are Scientist style pop-hooks, while 'Six Of The Best' is fresh from the studio, starting with a funky swaggering Franz bass lick, before running into the middle of a fight between WAS and Bloc Party. These influences permeate throughout, but with the wilder edges of grungishness keeping it more interesting than a lot of the standard indie that clutters up smaller festival stages at the minute. Locally, it's Panama Kings meets General Fiasco, and the catchy tunes could see them on those aforementioned festival stages winning new friends. Certainly the increased crowd approves of them.

In contrast to that up-to-date indie, White Denim tread that very thin line between homage and pastiche - when you do it right, you get The White Stripes, when you do it wrong you get Jet. Opening with a bit of jammed up psychedelic funk rock, it's like ASIWYFA backing Devendra Banhart in a Hendrix covers set, the primal power coming from the drums and the breathless pace with seemingly half the first album rammed together as they try to cope with the constraints of an early curfew. 'Mess Your Hair Up' has got that wonderfully authentic rumble of music of the era rather than the often clean lines we get nowadays, a slight sludge to add balance reminiscent of David Holmes' earlier work on 'Bow Down To The Exit Sign', 'This Film's Crap, Let's Slash The Seats' and with The Free Association. During a rare break between songs, they give their love to Belfast, and Belfast, or rather one person at least, proclaims their love for the front-man, and it's easy to see why. He's your definition of 60s rock guitar-hero, from the slightly shaggy curly hair, to headband and sweat dripping while playing an outstanding brew of blues, funk and jazz. Of course, wearing their influences so openly, bits and pieces feel familiar but it's done with such passion and verve that you can dismiss any criticisms. Aware of the aforementioned time constraints they forego the walk-off before the encore, and choose to batter out a couple more tracks including the fantastic 'I Can Tell'. The man near the front throwing Elvis hip-shaking moves approves.

William Johnston

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Gig Details
Venue: Stiff Kitten
Location: Belfast
Date: 27/6/2009

Related Links
+ White Denim
+ Strait Laces
+ Stiff Kitten