Written by Gina Rullo

White Denim Band Photo
Photo Credit: Downtown Records/Drew Anthony Smith

White Denim Shreds at Union Transfer

The last time I saw White Denim was in 2014. The Districts had opened for them, the band wore matching outfits, and they appeared to be very polished. While they were back on the same stage over two years later, things have changed for White denim.

Up until recently with the March release of their latest album Stiff, White Denim has been pretty mum over the last two years. This may have been due to the significant change in the band member lineup. Guitarist Austin Jenkins, and former drummer Josh Block, both left the band to instead help launch the career of Leon Bridges.

With the new band additions of guitarist Jonathan Horne, and drummer Jeff Olson, White Denim hit the Union Transfer stage on Thursday night with a much grungier look. Gone were the matching outfits which seemed to be replaced with mismatched trucker hats.

White Denim Sti

While their latest album may be entitled ‘Stiff’ (originally intended to mirror their 2009 album ‘Fits’), this band is anything but that. Joined by opener Sam Cohen, a psychedelic Dylan sounding artist, White Denim produced some incredibly tight sounds, and solos on ‘Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah)’. Compact transitions, and constant high-energy occurred from song-to-song on ‘Corsicana Lemonada’ tracks, ‘Let It Feel Good (My Eagles)’, and ‘At Night in Dreams.’ The funk was brought real hard on ‘Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting Love)’, and you know things got real when lead singer James Petralli turned his hat backwards.

Compared to two years ago, this was a completely different White Denim that seemed to come back with a vengeance. They didn’t just have command of the crowd, they commandeered it. With their top-notch guitar riffs, broadened vocal range, and gnarly instrumentation, White Denim had claimed ownership over Philadelphia. One guy in front of me was so hypnotized by the set that he literally dropped to his knees like when John Travolta’s character ‘got chills’ in Grease, and ran his hands through his hair while down on the ground.

‘Holda You (I’m Psycho),’ and ‘Had 2 Know (Personal)’ were both gratifying to hear live. It’s very clear that ‘Stiff’ is an album that’s meant to be heard in real-time. One last new component of the band was the addition of a keyboardist, who at one point shocked us all with a trumpet, and a tambourine.

Sam Cohen returned to the stage to join the band for the encore which was a cover of Steely Dan’s, ‘Peg.’ With a performance like that one, hopefully we won’t have to wait another two years for White Denim to come back to Philly.

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.