anything else about The White Stripes seems gratuitous. This post-punk,
garage blues duo from Detroit who claim to be brother and sister (despite
rumors that they are actually ex-spouses) have been critically praised
in dozens of publications in the past month.
The New York Times called frontman and guitarist Jack White the
most exciting songwriter since Kurt Cobain. The Village Voice had
this to say: "White Stripes are the most sincere and thus un-lame
band so far this century." And the list goes on from Rolling Stone,
to NME, to Pitchfork
by our very own Dan Kilian, all praising the work of this duo that
seemingly came from nowhere.
But is it overexposure? I think not, because this band is everything you
have heard and more. Simply stated, they fucking rock. Jack's relationship
to drummer Meg White may be a mystery, but her minimal, just-learned-the
drums-last-week style accentuates his guitar work perfectly. They have
the chemistry of lovers and the rawness of siblings.
With the release of White Blood Cells, The White Stripes have created
the best record so far this year. It is at once an homage to traditional
blues, the seventies guitar rift, British punk rock, and there is even
a little pre-sucking Jon Spencer thrown in to boot. Jack White has an
amazing vocal range that varies from a melodic baritone, to a raging scream,
to a silly falsetto and all 3 styles work wonderfully since the band tends
to mix it up on their records by including ballads alongside their rockers.
Perhaps the most refreshing thing about the band is Jack White's lyrical
devotion to themes rarely encountered in rock music. I always thought
rock and rolland the blues for that matterwere about getting
pussy and having your heart broken. At least that's what Mick Jagger,
Robert Johnson, and Robert Plant always sang about. Jack White's favorite
themes are getting married and being devoted to family. There is no kitsch
or irony to be found here, just a sincerity and a disdain for misogyny
that is rarely, OK never, found within the genre.
Bloods Cells is a much more solid record than there previous outing
DJ Stijl which was an excellent record in and of itself. Granted,
I miss the slide guitar and the more traditional blues feel of their last
record, but on White Blood Cells The White Stripes have perfected
their unique sound and created something that shows their influences but
also stands alone.
Dressed in their signature red and white, the band recently played a free
show on the 13th street pier (you know, the place where the Titanic set
sail) and the show was all that fans had hoped it would be. The weather
was a perfect 72 degrees with a nice, cool breeze and the crowd witnessed
a beautiful sunset over the Hudson as a backdrop.
The very British Invasion sounding The Greenhornes opened the show and
were a wonderful surprise. Despite looking like rejects from Almost
Famous, the band played 40 minutes of music that had me begging for
an encore. Staple New York band Mooney Suzuki were a little less than
adequate, but their showmanship (lots of banter with the crowd and synchronized
jumping) made them pleasant enough.
When The White Stripes finally took the stage beneath a rising moon, the
packed crowd went nuts and with good reason. The band never relies on
studio produced gimmickry, and their live show was as energetic, raw,
and as exciting as any in recent memory. Jack and Meg were in perfect
synchronization and clearly excited to be playing in New York to such
an enthusiastic crowd. Highlights included the rocking and very Zeppelin
sounding "Hello Operator" and the wonderful slide guitar driven
"Little Bird." They played until they had to leave (10 o'clock
curfew at the pier) but this reviewer left satisfied, even if I still
don't know if Jack and Meg are siblings or lovers. At least my relationship
with The White Stripes as a huge fan is clearly defined.
Free Williamsburg© | 93 Berry Street | Brooklyn,
| September 2001 | Issue 18
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