White Woods as Hipster Hillbillies


The Boulder Coffee Company was full of 20-somethings doing the Twist  as the Rochester-area band White Woods played tracks off their debut album Transfixical. Flannel-wearers and Blue Moon drinkers happily twirled and caterwauled during the entire performance of the self-proclaimed “hipster hillbilly rock at its finest,” and it was all appreciated.

The night began with performances by other local artists: ANR (not to be confused with this ANR), Jesse Sprinkle, and Mammal Is A Mountain. ANR, a newer band on the scene, played slower jams with sturdy drumbeats. Mammal Is A Mountain evoked Mumford and Sons with their spirited crescendos and folky cadences and proved to be the standout among the opening bands. Sprinkle, talented musician and producer, played solo but then made a bold, unexpected reappearance as drummer for White Woods.

White Woods opened their set and immediately got the audience swaying excitedly. The guitar riffs were colorful, with melodies like a more upbeat Deer Tick song, and the lyrics, like “a plane that rusts is a plane that flies,” were poetic and intriguing. However, the actual vocals of front man and founder of the group, Garth Clark, muddled things up a bit. His voice on the melody was too rough and got in the way of the music itself. The song lacked a cohesive feel; for an opener, it was a bit of a letdown.

But the second song “Keep Walking,” which should have been the first, was a hit. Clark’s Walk-the-Moon-like sound was more fully utilized and the band sounded fuller. The guitars had a vibrant rasp to them, and the pacing was animated. The energy was high in the room with this track: guys in sagging skinny jeans danced like wet noodles, clear-Wayfarer-donning girls spun dizzily around, and long-bearded men romped about. Another crowd-pleaser, and obviously the band’s favorite song to play, was “Call Me (Romeo),” a buoyant and bright song with harmonizing vocals. Clark sang this one with a boyish smile and the band’s lively spirit seeped into the crowd. Faster and bubbly tracks like this are definitely White Woods’ forte.

With imaginative lyrics and bouncing rhythms, the rowdy hipsters of White Woods put on an enthusiastic show that the entire audience enjoyed. The hillbilly-indie fusion fostered a fun vibe in the small coffee shop that kept rocking even after the band finished their set.