Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Dead Weather at the Wiltern, 8/25/09

It seems obvious to say that you have to see a band live to fully appreciate them, especially since the live experience is where they show their true mettle; much like a Mexican restaurant with bad salsa, and band with a lackluster live show is just not worth the time. But what about a band that already has an unstoppable record and still manages to make it seem tame in person? That is a lot more rare and special. 

The Dead Weather is the "supergroup" put together by Jack White, featuring Alison Mosshart of The Kills on vocals, Jack Lawrence of The Raconteurs on bass, Dean Fertita of both The Raconteurs and the latest Queens of the Stone Age lineup on guitar/keyboard/organ, and White on drums and sometimes vocals. Their debut album, Horehound, is an explosive mix of blues, classic rock and a whole bunch of other stuff, and it's the most overtly "rock" album since, well, The Raconteurs' Consolers of the Lonely from last year. The Dead Weather has a much dirtier, sexier, swampier and, dare I say, eviler sound though, and they brought that in spades to the Wiltern last week. Starting with the album opener, "60 Feet Tall," the band built an ominous atmosphere through the first couple of verses before Fertita's guitar exploded into a well-earned solo. The next song, "Bone House," didn't have quite the punch it does on the record, but I think Mosshart was just saving herself for the rest of the set.

Then, after a couple more songs, Jack finally emerged from behind the drum kit to sing a Van Morrison cover, and the crowd went predictably nuts. The man just has crazy charisma and stage presence; it's impossible not to get sucked in. Later, on the Stones-esque "Will There Be Enough Water?," Lawrence moved to drums and Jack and Alison prowled the stage, sizing each other up as they sang face to face. The band also debuted some new material, "Jawbreaker" and two other songs they didn't name (though I took the liberty), all of which held up nicely against the album tracks. The band had a couple sloppy moments, but that seemed to owe more to the intensity with which they were playing, and it didn't take anything away from the sheer sonic force they were producing onstage. With White you can never tell how long a band will be around or how often they'll make music (the boy clearly doesn't take his Ritalin), but The Dead Weather definitely made their presence on the music scene known, based on the size and volume of the crowd at this show.

Set List: 60 Feet Tall / Bone House / Hang You From The Heavens / Van Morrison cover / So Far From Your Weapon / I Cut Like a Buffalo / Jawbreaker (new) / Rocking Horse / Teach You (new, with madeup name) / Cigarette (ditto) / No Hassle Night / Will There Be Enough Water?
Encore: Unnamed cover song / Treat Me Like Your Mother / New Pony

Lastly, a word to anyone who has asked why I've been so absent on here recently. Between school approaching, a hectic work schedule, my imminent move and last week's trip to San Francisco for the Outside Lands Festival, I haven't had much time the last few weeks. That should change now as the rest of my life calms down, and you can expect to see lengthy posts about each day of Outside Lands, something about the NIN farewell show I'm attending tonight, and the usual random TV, music, movie and book recommendations/reviews in the next few days, and going forward. As always, thanks to everyone who actually reads this, and please continue to add your thoughts to the conversation.

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