We walked into The Basement Monday night expecting what would surely be a healthy turnout for a double dose of Pitchfork-approved, Austin-based indie rock. What we got was a quarter-full room of obvious fans--an intimate and comfortable treat for them (and us), but maybe not so much for the bands, though they didn't necessarily play like the show was under-attended. We showed up a little too late to catch local openers And The Relatives, but we're sure those boys have gotten enough Spin space not to be too sore at us. Which brings us to the next item on our agenda: Brazos. Opening with a dreamy sweep of rumbling indie-folk, the trio quickly exceeded our perpetually low expectations instantaneously. Their set was by no means groundbreaking, but the drummer kept things interesting, punctuating the off beats with a sweetly rollicking, syncopated, cerebral rhythm underneath their singer-guitarist's slacker croon and spacey guitar effects.
With the crowd size neither growing nor fading, folks alternated between cigarette puffs, beer swigs and idle chatter on the patio while headliners White Denim made for a speedy setup. While their predecessors eased us in with a slow and steady seduction, White Denim came out swinging like a frazzled hippie on a bad trip. Pillaging through their first five tunes without so much as batting an eye--much less stopping for a breath--the band laid waste to a relentless, walloping whirlwind of frenetic grooves complete with deep, fuzzy bass, homicidal drumming and a wash of squealing reverb, wah-wah and throaty howls. We had to wonder, what with so many similar influences and song structures, where exactly this crossed the line from your average Dead-worshipping, Phish-ripping, Bonnaroo-flavored jam band. The best answer we could come up with was the savage combo of tempo, attitude and noise, which meant that chicken dancing to this would surely harsh your mellow. By the end of it all, we knew damn well what would happen should we mix LSD with methamphetamine: We'd wake up wearing white jeans.