Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The White Stripes at Agganis Arena, 07/23/07

In an overheated college hockey arena, the lights go down and a red light shines on a backdrop behind the stage. Two shadowy figures emerge and are projected against the screen, larger than life, as they walk over to their respective instruments. With a playful kick of a bass drum and a wall of guitar feedback, The White Stripes launch into 75 minutes of tornadic, fuzzed out guitar-based rock/blues that sent the crowd into a delightful frenzy.

The former husband and wife team of Jack and Meg White busted out of Detroit in the late 1990s under the facade of being brother and sister. They had a raw, minimalistic bluesy sound and a great gimmick: everything revolved around the three colors red, white, and black. It perpetuated their style, their instruments, their album art, and their music, which rarely consisted of anything but drums and guitar.

The eclectic duo roared into Boston on the strength of their brilliant sixth CD, "Icky Thump" and delivered an empassioned, intense, and tragically brief show that was both playful and worklike at the same time.

Slowly growing out of that opening feedback from Jack's guitar came the notes that introduced the band's first song of the evening, "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground", the lead track to 2001's seminal "White Blood Cells" CD. From that point on, Jack, clad entirely in red, was a dervish on guitar, switching axes frequently, teasing bits and pieces of their extensive catalogue, and seemingly operating without a net (setlist) as he could be seen "calling audibles" to Meg on drums, responsibly filling her in on his direction before he veered off like a stolen Mustang.

As prolific and dynamic Jack is on guitar, Meg is pretty much the opposite on drums. But for as much crap as she takes for being an inferior drummer, it's hard to imagine someone else sitting behind the candy-striped kit. Her style is simple and her beats rudimentary. Songs that sound fast on disc are played three times the speed live. But it all comes together in this wonderful White Stripes package that is easily at the top of its musical game.

The setlist continued and stayed mostly nostalgic as the Whites only played a handful of new songs, but the stomping "When I Hear My Name" and the singalong fun of "Hotel Yorba" were played with a fresh attitude that the fans ate up and the new song "300 MPH Outpour Blues" showcased White's more delicate guitar playing all while singing into a microphone (one of the five he had set up at various places on stage) pointed directly at Meg.

But it really was the spattering of new songs that made the show transcendant. When "Cannon" segued into "Icky Thump"'s "I'm Slowly Turning Into You" (with Jack switching off between guitar and organ with virtuosic ease), it became the night's best of many great moments.

The Blind Willie McTell cover, "Lord, Send Me An Angel", always a treat to hear live, was as playful as ever with Jack augmenting the song to fit the locals and pleading that "those Boston women won't let Mister Jack White rest". As you can imagine, those same Boston women loved it.

Toward the end of the set, Jack sat on the stage, hunched over and back to the crowd and played the opening notes of "In the Cold, Cold Night" from their Elephant CD. Meg emerged from the drum kit and took center stage to thunderous applause and proceeded to lend her warbly, off-key, and utterly charming vocals to the tune. Just so perfectly flawed.

The set ended on another high note with the Stripes exploding through a scorching version of the crowd-favorite "Ball and Biscuit" (which again featured Jack singing into various microphones) before closing the set with the infectious title track of the new disc, which had the whole crowd bouncing to the pummeling beat.

Still living up to their on-stage relationship, Jack said his customary "I thank you and my sister thanks you" before the duo exited the stage to a mix of maniacal cheers and people looking at their watches, their mouths agape that they only played for about an hour.

Jack is truly growing exponentially musically and lyrically. The tunes are better than ever and there are few guitarists in popular music today that are willing to take as many risks as he. It might not all sound mint, but its undeniably him. And Meg's drumming fits the music just right. Brother/sister, ex-husband/wife, whatever the connection, it is strong and we all benefit from it.

After a frustratingly long encore break, the two came back and suffered their only real misstep of the night. The normally wonderful "My Doorbell" succumbed to Jack's misguided decision to play the entire song on bass, rather than take up the organ again, but any misgivings about that choice were quickly eradicated as Jack kept teasing the Burt Bacharach-penned "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself" with the sinister "I Think I Smell A Rat", back and forth. Jack's teases are a fan of the band, I find them both frustrating (hearing just a tease of a song you like can be torture) and exhilirating (as their unpredicatability excites you, never knowing when a song will stop and another will begin).

The predictable inclusion of the Stripes' biggest radio hit, "Seven Nation Army", really threw the crowd into a frenzy and the last song of the night, the wonderfully interactive "Boll Weevil" (during which Jack humorously mentioned that the last verse was about him, "as if you haven't heard enough of THAT subject tonight...") was both brilliant and melancholy as everyone pretty much knew the show was over.

And thus ended the Stripes' brief foray into Boston. What the concert lacked in length it made up for in intensity, the show itself just like Meg's vocals...a perfectly flawed and thoroughly wonderful performance.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

OMG! Dim Has a New Post! ROTFLMAO!

OK, I've been gone for awhile and not quite on my A-game when it comes to being entertaining (was I ever?), but I'll ease on back into this with two random observations that I've, well, observed lately:

What is the deal with these Internet chat shortcuts? I can't stand them. It's bad enough that you can be chatting with someone who told you they look like Ali Larter when they actually look more like Danny DeVito, with more hair on their back than on their head and wearing a perpetually Spaghetti-O stained white tank, but now you have to worry about people patronizing you on-line? I'll give you this example. The other day I sent an uproariously funny comment to one of my subordinates who works right next to me. And when I tell you it was funny, it was like 30 Rock funny; not Ziggy funny.

She responded with an e-mail that read: "LOL", which, apparently means, "Yes, Dim! This was soooo uproariously funny in a non-Ziggy way that I literally laughed out loud (hence LOL) whilst reading it!"

Only one problem: I sit right next to her. I can see her face. She didn't LOL. WTF??!! Granted, I am her boss and have her career in the palm pilot of my hand, but I really don't need any sympathy LOLs. Not from her; not from anyone.

And really? ROTFLOL?! Really? Have you ever seen ANYONE actually fall down on the floor and roll around laughing after hearing a joke? Even a really good knock-knock one? Please. The only time I fell on the floor rolling around laughing was when I caught myself on fire overcooking a Pop Tart and then hit my funny bone on the kitchen table during the "drop" part of "Stop, Drop, and Roll". And even then, it was because I was suffering 2nd degree burns in confluence with knocking the shit out of my ulnar nerve. Not because someone e-mailed me a "Little Johnny" joke.

There are a couple of other Internet chat things I ran into on this page:

COTFLGOHAHA = Crawling on the Floor Laughing Guts Out and Having a Heart Attack

That's a good one. How about this instead? IASPTEAHTWIRALMGOAHAHANOWCTAAIWADOLMGOAHAHA, which means: I am so prone to exaggeration and hyperbole that when I really am laughing my guts out and having a heart attack, no one will call an ambulance and I will actually die of laughing my guts out and having a heart attack.

ILSHIBAMF = I Laughed so Hard I Broke All my Furniture

This one I can relate to. One time I saw Super Troopers and liked it so much that I took a ball peen hammer to my ottoman. Now, I'm scared to watch Napoleon Dynamite because I just got a new recliner.

SBCN = Sitting Behind the Computer, Naked

Also known as, "waiting to hear from To Catch a Predator..."

ROFFNAR = Rolling on the Floor for no Apparent Reason

This one goes back centuries. If you find yourself doing this, you might want to keep it to yourself. They used to call this "The Fits" and hung a bunch of folks in Salem, Mass. for having them over 300 years ago.

There are too many else to mention. What are some of your favorites?

Finally, I woke up this morning to a zit the size of a Buick on my nose. What am I? 14? What the hell is up with that? I can't really walk into the local pharmacy and plop down a thing of Stridex and pretend like it is for my fictional pubescent son when I have the friggin' North Star guiding Santa's sleigh on my schnozz. Not cool.

Hope to post again soon. TTFN.

- Dim.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Many thanks to B. for tagging me in an attempt to get me to post something new!

I guess I need to tell you seven facts about myself. So, here goes:

1. I've seen a ton of concerts and the artist I have seen the most is Kristin Hersh. I've seen her 13 times; the first being on 10/30/98 and the most recent, a very cool show on 5/27/07. I also save all of the ticket stubs from the shows I have seen.

2. I met my wife at a Halloween party. I was Zorro and she went as someone from Star Trek since it was a costume she could throw together very quickly. We didn't talk much there and our dates weren't too eventful. I ended up with another girlfriend, though we remained friends and hung out occasionally. After the other relationship ended, we started dating again.

3. I can say all 50 states in alphabetical order very quickly. Probably within 12-15 seconds.

4. I am paternally adopted. I haven't seen my birth father in over 30 years.

5. I currently have hair down the middle of my back, but am seriously contemplating getting a "rockabilly" haircut.

6. My dream job would be to open up a brew pub and make all the beer and wine that we would serve and also come up with the menu. I'd really love to be a brewmaster or wine maker. Coming a close second, I wouldn't mind joining a travelling production of Jesus Christ Superstar if I could play Judas. It's not that I like the character as much as he has the best songs in the musical (by far).

7. The name of the street on which we live is the same first name as one of my grandmothers.

That's it. Not very interesting. And, unfortunately, I can't really tag anyone since the few of you who actually still read this blog have already been tagged by other folks! I hope to have a new post up soon. I have an idea or two dancing around in my head. I just need the time and motivation to sit down and write it.

By the way, I LOVE the new autosave feature of blogger. Wish they had that back when the friggin' site ate my posts with the frequency of Kobayashi eating a hotdog.

- Dim.
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