REVIEW: White Whale – September 19th 2006 – Larimer Lounge, Denver, CO

Scene: The Lounge was sadly empty. Yes I know that it was a Tuesday night and all but it’s a damn shame that Denver hasn’t hopped on board the White Whale yet. At one point during the set I counted 25 people in the main room. There were a couple more people in the front bar and out on the patio but all told in the whole bar there weren’t more than 50 people. There were about 100 present for local openers Everything Absent or Distorted. It is sad that sometimes that word doesn’t get about the bands that are really on the rise.

Opener: Everything Absent or Distorted. 7 member Denver chamber pop outfit that is a bit of a mix between Low and The Arcade Fire without the energy or songwriting of either. I am all for bands on thier way up and trying to make it but I couldn’t get into these guys. I didn’t feel too bad going out on the patio for a beer because they had such a good crowd cheering them on. I look forward to hearing them mature if they stick it out in the music business.

White Whale: This Lawrence Kansas outfit recently appeared on the Indie Rock scene with the fantastic debut album WWI (Merge). Their sound has been compared to The Decemberists and The Arcade Fire but to be honest neither one is too accurate. Their lyrics contain some sea faring themes reminiscent of The Decemberists but their sound is their own.

Having only one album to draw material from their set at the Larimer was understandably fairly short clocking in at about 45 minutes. They opened with the 1st track from WWI, “Nine Good Fingers,” and followed it up with, “O’ William O’ Sarah,” a song that descends from a graceful ballad into a wash of noise for the last 3 minutes that the band accurately recreated live. They also showcased “The Admiral,” “What’s An Ocean For,” and “Forgive the Forgiven” and all were very true to the outstanding album versions.

The highlight of the set was a great version of what is to me the standout track on the album, “We’re Just Temporary Ma’am.” The quintet was fired up for this one and while the energy didn’t exactly fill the nearly empty room, it left me with the feeling that these guys are not a flash in the pan. They have decided where they want to go musically and they have come together to form a band that can get them there. They played their hearts for the twenty of us that showed up for an 11:30 set on a Tuesday night.

I only have one complaint about the show. In a recent interview I did with Rob Pope, Bass player for the band, he mentioned that they had just started to play “Fidget & Fudge” in the live setting and it was his favorite song to play live. As the set ended Lindsay went up to the stage to request the song figuring “hey there are only 20 people here, they will surely play a request for us.” Alas no, Rob and Matt Suggs (lead singer & guitar) left the stage to have a cigarette and when I introduced myself outside and let them know they literally had people chanting for a song (several people had joined our cause and were trying to get the band to play the song) they blew it off saying “we just started playing that and it’s a bit rough at the moment.” I respect that to a degree but hell, there were 20 of us and it was 12:15 on Wedensday morning. The least they could have done is get back out there on the stage and give it a shot for us. Building a fan base is hard enough with out pissing off the only 20 people in a city that came out to your show. To their credit Dustin Kinsey (drums) Zach Holland (keys & guitar) and John Anderson (guitar) were up for playing the song.

I sincerely hope that the next time White Whale comes to Denver (and I hope they return very soon) the turn out will be better. It is a shame when bands that this much talent, and songs as good as those on WWI, don’t get the respect they deserve.

Energy: B+
Sound: B (In a little club like this I don’t blame the band)
Muscianship: B
Stage Presence: B+
Set/Light Show: C- (In a little club like this I don’t blame the band)

Overall: B+

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Who Is Timothy Dwenger

Music has always been a part of my life. It probably all started listening to old Grateful Dead, Peter Paul & Mary, and Simon & Garfunkel records that my parents had, but it wasn't long before they were taking me to concerts like Starship, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Huey Lewis & The News. I got the bug to write about music after reviewing an Eric Clapton concert for a creative writing project in high school but didn't really take it up seriously until 2002. Since then I have published countless articles in The Marquee Magazine and done some work for Jambase.com, SPIN Magazine, and various other outlets. I started Listen Up Denver! as a way to share the music information that is constantly spilling out of my head with people who care. Please enjoy!