You can’t buy much with seven bucks these days. Locally inspired options include a burrito off Lloyd’s Taco Truck, a paperback copy of Greg Ames’s “Buffalo Lockjaw” on Amazon or a pint of Smuttynose Robust Porter at The Liberty Hound.
Such value seems to be approaching extinction, even in historically affordable Western New York. But we’re not there yet. Those who can crumple some bills together and bum a ride up I-190 can still gain access to live performances by incendiary acts worth far more than fast food, books or beer.
Case in point: the season’s first Coors Light Wednesday at Artpark in Lewiston, where fresh-off-Bonnaroo acts Arctic Monkeys and White Denim gave those lucky enough to scoop early tickets to the most ludicrously underpriced double bill of the season.
A mere dollar amount doesn’t tell the whole story of this deal. In headliner Arctic Monkeys, fans could expect to have their hair blown back by a band who has been a panic across the Atlantic for nearly a decade, with 2006’s “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” once the fastest-selling debut album in British history. In Austin, Texas-based opener White Denim, attendees could absorb the kaleidoscope of psychedelic blues the band’s twirled since their earliest Texas gigs in 2005. From the uneven audio lunacy of “Radio Milk How Can You Stand It” to the runaway percussion on “It’s Him!,” the quartet’s songs have never been branded bland.
These past glories alone should have multiplied each ticket price by five. But take into account that both acts are touring on albums – “AM” for the Arctic Monkeys and “Corsicana Lemonade” for White Denim – that have launched them to the forefront of festivals like Bonnaroo and you’ll understand why entry into Wednesday night’s venue was going for as much as $75 on stubhub.com the afternoon of the show.
Any doubts about whether absorbing such an upcharge was worth it were first weakened by White Denim, who opened the show with college radio-rotated “Pretty Green.” With its sing-along chorus, jogging snare hits and Gibson duel between lead guitarist Austin Jenkins and soul-voiced guitarist James Petralli, it was a good gateway drug for the freewheeling four-piece assault that would sustain the band’s 11-song set.
On tunes like “Anvil Everything,” you could understand why the word “psychedelic” is always associated with a band so firmly rooted in rock and blues. A percussion foundation galloped below the track’s dreamy vibe before Jenkins, Petralli and bassist Steven Trebecki put the brakes on, redirected and jaunted toward conclusion via circular jam. But on southern-touched rockers like “Come Back” or the wild, sweat-drenched “I Start To Run,” Petralli and Co. proved to be as genre elusive as loose tickets for their show.
Still, ultimate appreciation for early seats came at the sight of Sheffield, England’s Arctic Monkeys, who greeted the Lewiston crowd with the bass drum beat of “Do I Wanna Know” before the distinctive cockney growl of frontman Alex Turner soothed through a sea of tween screams.
Turner’s new slicked-back, Gene Vincent-meets-The Hives look now fronts a more diversified band, one able to work amphitheater crowds into as much a lather with the marching thump of their aforementioned smash as they once did with rollicking club hits like “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor.” But that doesn’t mean they’ve toned things down.
Whether with guitarist Jamie Cook’s Black Sabbath-inspired licks on “Arabella” or Matt Helders helmed cymbal crashes on “Crying Lightning,” the band kept the capacity crowd moving through their set’s light rain, then bounced them through older favorites like “Dancing Shoes” and “Fluorescent Adolescent.” By the time Nick O’Malley’s creeping bass on “One For The Road” and a crushing version of “R U Mine?” checked in for the encore, they had followed their tourmates to give the crowd their money’s worth – multiple times over.