White Denim at Green Man Festival, Wales; Friday 19th August 2016
(Photographer: Will Steadman)
Expertly curated Green Man, which this year featured: James Blake, Wild Beasts, Belle and Sebastian, Battles, Warpaint and Laura Marling, along with an impressive number of new bands and artists on the special Green Man Rising stage, was a great platform for White Denim; introducing a decent helping of loud, up-tempo rock ’n roll into a festival usually dominated by folk, electronic, indie and world sounds.
Four-piece White Denim, who are no doubt used to somewhat warmer and drier surroundings in their hometown of Austin, Texas, today find themselves in a cold, damp but nonetheless beautifully located field in the Brecon Beacons for the 14th Green Man Festival. The band, led by (blue) denim-clad James Petralli, has been active for 10 years now and have just released their superb 6th album: ‘Stiff’, produced by Ethan Johns (Kings of Leon, The Vaccines, Ray LaMontagne).
Their one hour set on the Green Man main stage, complete with Wales’ black mountains as a stunning natural backdrop, demonstrates outstanding musicianship throughout, especially from the rhythm section which includes brand new drummer Jeff Olsen, who plays flawlessly and flamboyantly on his white and green-sparkle kit, despite it only being his 4th gig with the band. Their songs, which are bursting with energetic riffs, high-octane guitar solos, and interesting transitions manage to touch on every era and sub-genre of rock, with elements of 60s soul, 70s funk, jazz, blues and psychedelic folk thrown in too. The result is one of the most enjoyable and energy-filled festival sets I’ve seen.
They draw an impressively large and enthusiastic crowd, benefitting perhaps from preceding Friday’s headliner, James Blake. With 20,000 people in attendance at Green Man, Petralli and co appear genuinely humbled by the turnout and proclaim jubilantly that it’s their “biggest ever show”, which is surprising. White Denim are deserving festival headliners of the future and hopefully this appearance will help broaden their cult-appeal.
White Denim are touring the UK in October, including London’s Roundhouse on 11th Oct. ‘Stiff’ is out now on Downtown Records.
Writer: Will Steadman: @steadman_will