White Hills and Societal Ills

Playing White Hills through desktop speakers or earbuds won’t cut it. This is a live band, and it takes a wall of giant speakers to get the full White Hills experience. This New York band has captured the energy of ’60s festival rock in a way that few others have. London’s Sunday Times put it this way: “White Hills dumb down determinedly to discover their inner ape and nibble the fingers of greatness.” Greatness meaning more of a Led Zeppelin/Iron Butterfly/Jimi Hendrix feedback loop rather than merely cloning Hawkwind, another band of spacerockers to whom White Hills receive many comparisons.

The downside to the wall-of-speakers experience is that it can be exhausting, having to withstand all that raw ear pummeling. But White Hills know how to take a single riff just to the breaking point before crushing it with a guitar solo delivered in a Jon Spencer shockwave of screeching distortion.

This year White Hills has, to use a corporate term, “reinvigorated their brand” by writing rants about various societal ills on H-p1, their 14th release since 2007. “H-p1 is symbolic of the simplification of complex ideas to keep the masses from questioning the system,” bassist Ego Sensation told a reporter. Guitarist Dave W., Sensation, and new drummer Nick Ferrante deliver confrontational paranoia on a platter, and it works because on H-p1 the level of lyrical angst matches the retro guitars-on-afterburner theme.

Plant Tribe and Joy also perform.

WHITE HILLS: Soda Bar, Saturday, September 17, 9 p.m. 619-255-7224. $8.

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