By Rob Carson
Following a lackluster performance in Sochi, where Shaun White pulled out of slope and placed an uncharacteristic fourth in pipe, the question on many minds is where he's heading in terms of snowboarding.
There's no question the 2013–2014 season was a heavy one for White. He suffered minor injury after injury on the road to Sochi and consequently pulled out of events to recuperate in Copper, Breckenridge, Mammoth, Aspen, and even in Russia.
And now, as the thirty-second Burton US Open takes over Vail, Colorado, White is busy tuning his guitar, instead of his board, for a series of shows with this band, Bad Things.
On Sunday, while the most of the competitive shred field made their way to Vail to prepare for the Open, White played a sold-out show with Bad Things at Mercury Lounge, a trendy venue in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
I caught wind of the concert and signed up to see the spectacle. Unsure of what to expect, I arrived at Mercury Lounge 30 minutes prior to set time. The will-call line stretched the entire block and was filled with classic New York bourgeois-hipsters, a smattering of eager teens, and a few plump motherly-types sprinkled in.
I probed several attendees as to their interest in the band, and not surprisingly, most admitted their draw was to see White.
“I saw Shaun on Jimmy Fallon and heard he was playing show, so I scooped up a couple of tickets since they were cheap [$12.50 a piece]. I’m just interested to see if they are actually any good, or if it’s a just gimmick,” said Jess Quan, a 20-year-old that lived in the neighborhood.
Several other people shared similar sentiments, but as the five-member band took to the stage and unleashed with furious precision it was clear they wanted nothing more than to shake this perception. Bad Things played like a well-rehearsed rock band ready to rise through the ranks and prove their talent, with or without the clout of their celebrity guitarist.
Davis LeDuke, the band’s lead singer, easily stole the show with his frantic and animated stage presence and dove into the unsuspecting crowd on two occasions. White, on the other hand, was more reserved, and shied away from interactions with the crowd. As he performed, his lack of interaction with the sea of people careening to snap his picture, implied he was trying to blend in with the band. It seemed he wanted their collective musical talents to shine brighter than his personal stardom.
Bad Things played for a solid hour and belted out most of their songs from their first self-titled album, released by Warner Brothers January 21.
After the show I caught up with White and inquired about his future snowboard plans. He was less than forthcoming and his coyness suggested he might be over it… This much is sure, while the future of his competitive snowboarding may be in limbo, his desire to play with Bad Things is not.
“It feels good to be back on stage and playing with these guys," White told me. "I’m looking forward to our upcoming shows, we have VH1 tomorrow morning, and [Jimmy] Fallon on Thursday. It’s gonna be a trip. Essentially I’ll be touring for like the next year.”
After Fallon the band will head to Austin to play South By Southwest next week. With a heavy tour lining up, its safe to say White will be shredding his guitar, more than the slopes, at least the rest of this season.
Bad Things’ first single, Caught Inside.