The Dead Weather Minneapolis

The Dead Weather

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

Jack White’s latest band The Dead Weather reached the pinnacle of live show performances this past Monday at First Avenue in Minneapolis.

Like the electricity shot into Dr. Frankenstein’s creation, Jack White gives the beat on drums that pulses through the veins of the band and revives a sound from the dead. As a band they feel like they are fleeting and the moment is still fresh… Like a zombie corpse standing next to you… You can smell and feel the wet cold skin.

Alison Mosshart (formerly of The Kills), is the lead singer of The Dead Weather. She is one part Lou Reed and one part Jim Morrison, but a darker vixen than either of the two. She dangerously seduces her audience, one by one, staring into their eyes and crawling around their minds. Even White comes out from behind his drum kit and seems to fall under her spell. When she breaks their musical séance she lights a cigarette to bask in the moment. They don’t kiss, but at times onstage they deeply connect.

One thing that is typical of all of Jack White’s bands and continues in The Dead Weather is that they play with sound as opposed to creating structured music. At times their songs can be the most beautiful piece of art you will ever hear, but at other times the sounds bleed. Every piece is an experiment though and should be heard in its entirety.

Back in 1966 Electra records discovered The Doors in Los Angeles and then MC5 inDetroit not long afterward. The Dead Weather mixes Detroit with L.A. for a sound that really works. Jack White, who is originally out of Detroit, follows other greats like Grand Funk Railroad, MC5, The Stooges, Alice Cooper and a million other MotorCity protégés.

Unlike Jack White’s other CDs though, The Dead Weather’s Horehound is a bit harder to get used to. From his first album with The White Strips to his Raconteurs CDs I have always found each song easy to fall for. With The Dead Weather’s debut album it takes a bit of time to embrace the sound, but seeing them live there is no comparison to White’s other bands. They are truly like MC5, who found their greatest success in live recordings, as did The Doors until Morrison pushed the limits of what a performer could do onstage. Horehound, created in only three weeks, is not The Dead Weather; they are a live band.

Mosshart is captivating on stage and very beautiful in person. She looks rough, but the audience braces her fall from grace. She glides on a tightrope, walking in classic boots like Morrison wore and occasionally emerges from her thick black hair to see if everyone is still there. She scares you into embracing her, and the band is her potion she feeds.

The Dead Weather is the hot thing of the moment and on the cover of all the rock magazines. After the show I asked Mosshart what she thought of all the sudden fame surrounding them right now. She asked “What fame,” laughed a bit, and then said that it “felt great.”

Dean Fertita, the guitarist for the band, is best known for his tenure in Queens of the Stone Age. He remembered visiting Duluth with the band in 2007. It was his first tour with QOTSA and the first show on the aptly named “Duluth Tour.”

“That was one of my favorite tours I’ve been on,” Fertita said, “Because we went to small towns that don’t usually get a lot of big acts. Those make for some of the funnest shows because the fans are so into the music and really appreciative.”

Completing The Dead Weather is “Little” Jack Lawrence on bass. Previously of The Greenhornes and The Raconteurs, he always is a solid bass player and has a mystique about him behind his long black hair and dark-rimmed glasses.

Hidden among the band’s notable original songs were Bob Dylan’s “New Pony” and a Them cover as well. The organ seethes on their song “Bone House” (played by Fertita) is insane and gives the band their trademark sound.

Standing front row at First Avenue gave me an up close view of the band. There was no moshing and the sold out crowd was very respectful of each other. During the encore there was a moment where a few people in the center tried to push forward and a person was passed above the crowd, but it quickly deescalated. Everyone was there to watch the band; it was about them and not the audience. This was most evident when White came out from behind the drums to play the guitar. It was like screaming fan videos of The Beatles when all of a sudden you could only hear screaming. Over all of my years of attending shows I have never seen a crowd cheer that loud and scream. It was like the over 18 crowd of women were at home watching Ed Sullivan or at Shea Stadium way back in the 60s. What I had always read about and only seen in Beatles documentaries really happened right before my eyes.

My ears rang for three straight days after the show, but it was worth it to see rock history occurring right in front of me. Front row. Go to www.thefountainheads.comfor more pictures.