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White Stripes article in The New York Times.

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  • Jen
    For original article and photo, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/26/arts/music/26whit.html? ex=1186286400&en=12a0e70bc864fa24&ei=5070 If Something s
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 3, 2007
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      For original article and photo, go to:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/26/arts/music/26whit.html?
      ex=1186286400&en=12a0e70bc864fa24&ei=5070

      If Something's Missing, All the Better
      Stephen Chernin/ Associated Press


      By KELEFA SANNEH
      Published: July 26, 2007
      They were wearing suits! And hats! No, not the two band members: Jack
      White was wearing red pants and a red T-shirt, while Meg White was
      wearing black pants and a red shirt. And besides, plenty of musicians
      dress up when they play Madison Square Garden. On Tuesday night,
      though, the White Stripes went one step further: those suits and hats
      belonged to the guys setting up the amplifiers.

      Once the show started, the White Stripes were left alone: the two of
      them spent nearly two hours on a big stage in a big — and full —
      room. "I don't believe we've played this bar before," said Mr. White,
      surveying the Garden. He probably didn't feel quite that blasé, but
      he certainly didn't seem intimidated, or thrilled, or even
      triumphant. He simply went to work, howling and shrieking and
      sighing, while inducing his guitars to do the same.

      The entire set was red, and carefully positioned footlights projected
      beautiful shadows of the two onto a huge red backdrop. The only
      special effect was a big disco ball, but that was plenty. In between
      songs, he paid courtly tribute to "my big sister Meg" (the two are
      actually a divorced couple), and to his opening act, the Nashville
      veteran Porter Wagoner, "the best-dressed man in country music." (The
      other opening act was Grinderman, led by Nick Cave.)

      It's astonishing how much the White Stripes have achieved through
      pure stubbornness. Over the course of six albums, they have sidled up
      to the rock 'n' roll mainstream without softening their approach.
      They still sound as rude and as unhinged as ever, especially compared
      with the emo and alternative bands with whom they share the modern-
      rock radio airwaves.

      At most rock concerts, there are moments when the machine — the band —
      briefly comes unhinged: the beat is a split-second late, or the
      guitar emits a deafening squeal, or a lyric emerges as a formless
      howl. A White Stripes concert consists of almost nothing but these
      moments, and that's the whole point. The two make a fierce, wobbly
      racket, confident that listeners won't miss the comfort afforded by
      steady bass lines and fuller arrangements. Hearing them play is a bit
      like reading a sentence with no vowels. Wh rlly nds vwls, nywy?

      A White Stripes concert also underscores the importance of Ms. White,
      whose drumming is more sophisticated than many fans (and many more
      non-fans) realize. She refuses to imitate a metronome, refuses to
      flatten the songs by making them conform to a steady pulse. Instead
      she seems to hear the music the way Mr. White does: as a series of
      phrases, each with its own shape and tempo. In "Icky Thump," the
      title track from the group's most recent album, which was released
      last month, she occasionally warped the rhythm by shortening one of
      the beats, perfectly in unison with Mr. White's guitar. If her
      playing were mathematically precise, it would be less musically
      precise.

      Much of the set was devoted to songs from "Icky Thump," which is a
      bit more raucous than its excellent and unpredictable
      predecessor, "Get Behind Me Satan." Where that album found Mr. White
      experimenting with marimba and other instruments, "Icky Thump" is a
      return to guitar-dominated tantrums and pleas. Ear fatigue
      occasionally sets in (that's one inevitable effect of the band's
      ruthless approach), but more often, it was simply exciting to hear
      familiar traditions — garage rock, country music, the blues —
      sounding so strange. And Mr. White's squiggly solo during "You Don't
      Know What Love Is (You Just Do as You're Told)," from the new album,
      sounded downright catastrophic, in the best sense.

      The White Stripes are in the happy position of having too many songs
      to choose from, though they found time for most of their biggest
      hits, some of which were packed into the encore. There was a
      singalong version of "We're Going to Be Friends," a breakneck run
      through "Blue Orchid" and, eventually, a thumping rendition of "Seven
      Nation Army." But one of the band's biggest songs, "Fell in Love With
      a Girl," appeared only in modified form: a screaming garage-rock hit
      was reborn, slower and quieter. Perhaps some fans missed the original
      version. Others probably took it in stride: part of the fun of a
      White Stripes concert is learning how much you can live without.
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