“This,” young Joe Williams said while sweeping his left to right across the Merc stage, “is White Williams.” Not entirely so, although maybe for the busy touring months the artist to watch has ahead. Last night’s show was, if pre-show bar chatter’s to be believed, White’s first live outing. Also, it was a chance to test the waters with the “band,” consisting of an impossibly high-waisted-jeans toting guitarist, a scruffy bassist, and Williams on an assortment of keys, Hohner soprano melodica, laptop triggers, and vox. We were prepared for a Beirut at Knit-type showing of green, but no need for concession last night.
White’s debut LP Smoke’s billowed into a full-fledged Stereofave, full of quirky sonic jabs over computer beats and Bowie vocal lines, netting dancey new wave (“Violator”) and Talking Heads-y world grooves (“Going Down”), fluid and easy. Both tracks came crisp under Joe’s direction last night, along with sure hits “Headlines” and “New Violence,” loud ‘n’ true to the studio bits. Upcoming tours with Dan Deacon/Girl Talk and Battles beckon, but that didn’t stop understated but stage-commanding White from wanting each beat in place from the open, each vocal just so, each trigger in line with his band cue. Street buzz’s been great, the songs are even better. Here’s our new favorite, folks, bound to have a good run this year. Grab MP3 of “New Violence,” head to MySpace for “Route To Palm” and “Violator” streams, and take the jump for a couple more pics.