red lights

Short & Sweet

The White Stripes
Chicago, IL
July 11, 2002
White Stripes
Creating carnage with ease.

Review by Tony Bonyata
Photos by Stevie Styles

Some call them brother and sister, others ex-husband and wife. Some even joke they're both. But while the media is having a field day with the exact terms of relations between Jack and Meg White of The White Stripes, what's often overshadowed is the fact that this Detroit minimalist duo is, without question, the most exciting rock act of the last decade.
White Stripes Last Thursday evening the two walked onto the tiny stage of the Metro - the first of two sold-out shows - and proceeded to reintroduce the packed house to the true spirit of rock 'n' roll - via Clarksdale, Mississippi to their own Detroit garage. Clad in their trademark peppermint-tinged red and white apparel the couple whizzed through an accelerated take of "Little Room" before ripping into "Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground," both from their latest album White Blood Cells. Armed with nothing more than a guitar, spirited high-pitched voice and ratty pageboy haircut Jack spat through his ridiculously short hour-long set with all the verve and passion of Jimmy Swaggart fronting the Ramones, while his 'big sister,' as he described her that evening, effortlessly pummeled away on her sparse drum kit.
Not unlike early Brit bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin, much of Jack and Meg's raunchy, stripped down sound was originally inspired by the early Delta bluesmen from the 1920s and '30s. But as they proved, both onstage as well as their records, their mongrel mix of earthy, bone-harrowing blues, primitive punk rock and Candyland sentiments, is refreshingly unlike any that have gone before them.
During their frenzied show the twosome blew through fiery takes of songs from all three of their albums such as "Astro," "Jimmy The Exploder," "I Think I Smell A Rat" and "Truth Doesn't Make A Noise," which saw Jack alternating between his electric guitar and piano. They also tossed in a couple of covers, including a raw take on Dolly Parton's "Jolene" as well as Son House's "Death Letter," where Jack summoned up some mighty nasty spirits, as his soul-selling slide guitar snaked it's way in and out of Meg's drastically altered tempo changes.
And while the charismatic Jack often seemed to steal the spotlight with his passionate vocals, boyish good looks and inventive, often jaw-dropping guitar work, it was the cute-as-a-bug Meg who was holding the match to this dangerous duad's powder keg. With long pigtails flailing, she conjured up not only the hypnotic droning beats of The Velvet Underground's Moe Tucker, but also laid down the Bron-Yr-Aur stomp of Zeppelin's late thunder-god John Bonham. Surprisingly though, this petite pounder somehow managed to channel all this primitive power, seemingly, without even breaking a sweat.
Slowing things down just long enough for the crowd to inhale, Jack delivered a demented vocal warble to the quaint ditty "Apple Blossom" before leading into the frail and beautiful McCartney-esque number, "We're Going To Be Friends."
Sure their set, by any other band's standards, was ludicrously short, but with blistering rock music that matters as much as this does today, no one left feeling short-changed.

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