The White Stripes at Roseland Ballroom

On Tuesday the 18th, Sarah and I went to see The White Stripes at the Roseland Ballroom. The show was originally scheduled for sometime in July, but Jack broke his pinky in a motorcycle accident. Ray and Diana were also going to the show, so for once Sarah and I could look forward to having someone to hang out with between bands.

The White Stripes at Roseland - November 18th, 2003

The opening act for the night was The Hentchmen, another detroit garage group. They had a few catchy riffs, and some energetic moments, but I won’t be rushing out to buy their records. I’m a huge fan of the electric bass, and what it does to solidify a song’s rhythm. I’ve been able to look past the lack of bass in a few cases (say, the White Stripes), but in most cases you can really feel the absence. The Hentchmen include a guitar (some sort of semi-hollow on the night in question), electric organ, and drums…but alas no bass. As a result, the songs lacked rhythmic persistence and the guitars high end ran unchecked. To be fair, part of the problem might have been the sound system…maybe I’ll check out some of their recorded material. The crowd definitely seemed to enjoy them more than I did.

Speaking of the crowd, I didn’t notice any celebrities, but I did see tons of rock and roll types tricked out in their best red, black and white gear. Looking back, I should have made myself a Mondrian inspired T-Shirt or something so that I would have been able to fit in with the De Stijl (pronounced “de style”) aesthetic that was going on. My BB King T-shirt was black and white, maybe that get’s me an A for effort.

By the time Jack and Meg hit the stage, the crowd was primed and ready to go. They stormed there way through a bunch of their hits with minimal fuss or crowd interaction, not that the audience seemed to mind. I found myself jumping and bopping around indie rock style…I couldn’t help myself. My personal highlight was “Death Letter”, a cover of one of Son House’s most heart wrenching songs. Definitely check out both versions.

Jack really took it to the guitar the whole night with screaming bends and ferocious slide wails. For the most part, Meg’s minimalist drumming style provided room for Jack’s voice and guitar to amble, but it seemed drowsy and almost disinterested at times. Having a drummer that sounds like a guitarists foot stomping accompaniment is a cool novelty and adds to some of their songs, but I’d really like to hear what Jack can do with a solid rhythm section made up of the traditional drums and bass.

All in all a great night, except for Ray having a touch of the flu. I can’t wait to see them again.

Here’s a review of the show from the daily news.