On Friday I went with Sarah (much to her chagrin) to see the Raconteurs at the WaMu Theater. The WaMu Theater, for those who haven’t been, is attatched to Qwest Field, where the Seahawks* play. It is essentially a large concrete box with a stage set up at one end and chairs set up on risers on the other end. It is very similar to Reliant Arena in Houston, except it is actually attached to the football stadium. We had general admission tickets, which I beleive is the only sensible way to see a rock concert. We were close enough to see the performers facial expressions and the spit fly from their mouthes when they were singing. The sound quality was quite good, and certainly much better than seeing a show in a large arena or stadium.
* Best quote ever from Pat Green: “What the hell is a Seahawk anyway? I can tell you what a cowboy is.”
The opening band was a duo named the Kills. I know I had heard their name before the concert, but I couldn’t tell you anything about their music. I still can’t, really. I really liked their style. They rocked really hard, and Sarah loved the lead singer “VV” who was totally wild on stage. She was thrusting and moaning and smoking through their whole set in her bright pink pants. Sometimes her long hair would completely cover her face from all the thrashing and she would sing for a while looking like a grown up version of the girl from the Ring.
Their music was based off the guitarist (who claimed to be on heroin), the lead singer, and a variety of thumping, driving baselines from a drum machine. Their sound was very base and almost pornographic, but I think that’s what they were going for. I really wanted to like their music, but I just couldn’t. I think their music is probably like a jackhammer. It looks like fun, and it is fun for the operator, but when you’re just standing there taking in the noise and breathing in the smoke it’s rather unpleasant.
The Kills played for about 45 minutes, and then there was about a half an hour until the Raconteurs came out. There wasn’t much of a set change, as all the Raconteurs equipment was already on the stage, covered by tarps. Naturally, when they came out the place errupted. Most people were yelling directly at Jack White. We were very close to the stage, though outside of the mash zone.
They were simply awesome. The whole band is amazing. I didn’t realize exactly who was singing what and who was playing what until I saw them live. Their other guitarist besides Jack White, Brendan Benson, was spectacular. Some of the solos on the album which I assumed were Jack White (because they were so awesome) were actually Brendan Benson. Brendan Benson looked like he had been pulled directly from Almost Famous in order to be in this band. At least for this show, whenever there was an accoustic guitar in the song it was played by Jack White, which surprised me. The keyboardist was pretty good, and could sing really, really high, to the point that it sounded eery. The drummer was good, as was the bass player, who looked like a gnarly lovechild of Wayne and Garth from Wayne’s World.
But the star of the show was Jack White. His stage presence was tremendous. His voice is truly unbelievable. His guitar solos rock. I expected the show to be short, as they only have two albums, and it was pretty short as concerts go. Still, I have no idea how he lasted the whole show. His voice is screeching yet powerful and not at all irritating. I couldn’t do it for a minute. He sounded that way even when he was just speaking to the crowd. He didn’t try and follow the cadence of his singing from the album at all, although the rest of the band tended to. He played keyboard in some of the songs, and seemed to be experimenting with different sounds to the keyboard than were used on the album. He used a regular microphone most of the time, switching sometimes to a screamer-muffle type microphone, like the one Issac Brock from Modest Mouse uses often. His guitar solos were awesome and metal, better even than my favorite solos from the album.
The ending was really well scripted. They played three songs for their encore, the last of which was Carolina Drama.
Well now you heard another side to the story
But you wanna know how it ends?
If you must know, the truth about the tale
Go and ask the milkman