The Dead Weather Salt Lake City

Following The Dead…Weather to Denver and Salt Lake City Part 2

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

After seeing The Dead Weather perform in Minneapolis and Denver it was a memorable experience traveling through the Rocky Mountains to watch them play on August 18th in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Sitting back and planning a trip out West on a map isn’t the same as when you finally embark on the Odyssey. On August 17th we saw The Dead Weather perform in Denver at an all ages show and it was packed and hectic. Driving Hwy 70 through the mountains the next morning for eight and a half hours takes some endurance. Many times I thought of the line from the Lethal Weapon movies (1 through 3,426), “I’m getting too old for this….”

Hwy 70 is a beautiful route to take fromDenver to Salt Lake City and takes you directly through the Rockies. Skiing capitals like Breckenridge and Vail are along the route in Colorado and had gigantic chalet styled condos being built. Exiting the mountains in Utah it becomes the desert. Entering the Salt Lake City area is much like driving into a lot of modern cities with miles and miles of suburbs surrounding the downtown area.

Salt Lake City in comparison to Denver was VERY clean and had more mountains next to the downtown area. In the movie Hot Fuzz, by Shaun of the Dead’s Simon Pegg, the premise is based around a city that is kept spotlessly clean by its residents who do anything they must do for “the greater good,” no matter how villainous. SaltLake had that feeling and was probably the cleanest city you will ever see… Well, at least within the few mile radius of the Temple.

When we purchased the tickets for the show and began to research Salt Lake we got a bit nervous reading that all bars were private “clubs” requiring membership or a kind of a special license to drink or enter. That old law ended up being repealed a month before our arrival so we were in the clear. The concert on that night was being held at The Depot, a converted railroad depot and bar.

Due to our late night seeing the band in Denver, and our full-day drive to get to SaltLake, we ended up arriving to the show after the doors had already opened. Unlike the past two performances though, this show was 21+ and in a nice air-conditioned theater/bar. The front area was still open near the stage and I quickly grabbed a spot literally touching the stage right where Jack White would soon deliver his guitar solo.

This was August 18th, which also happened to be my birthday.

My wife was talking with the opening band, who was sitting at a table enjoying a few beers before they played. That band, Tyvek, told her that they had not even met The Dead Weather yet. This was despite the fact that they had been touring with the band through several cities and had many more to come. When they took the stage a bit later I was surprised when the drummer, Matt, said that he wanted to wish me a Happy Birthday and the band was going to sing the “Happy Birthday” song. Kevin, guitar and singer, objected explaining that no audience likes to be subjected to singing “Happy Birthday” and they instead had the sold out crowd cheer and yell, “Happy Birthday.” It was very memorable to say the least and a nice surprise arranged by my wife.

The Dead Weather, who describes their music as “ferocious”, came out next and attacked the audience. Being so close to Dean Fertita and Jack White gave me a once-in-a-lifetime view of the show. It also had a much calmer vibe than Denver and the temperature in the building was perfectly cool. The older crowd was much more respectable than the all-ages shows and Alison Mosshart (lead singer) seemed to be in much better spirits than the previous night.

All of the songs of The Dead Weather have gory or slightly scary undertones. “Bonehouse” is about building a house for someone’s bones, “Hang You From The Heavens” talks about grabbing someone by the hair and dragging them to the devil, “Treat You Like Your Mother” has a video of White and Mosshart walking toward each other while firing machine guns at each other. This continues until they go face to face and shoot holes in each other. Usually a music and imagery like this would turn me off to a band, but this group is more of a throwback and does it all tongue-in-cheek.

The music and overall feeling of the band is like a classic horror movie. White’s kick drum even has the 1931 Bride of Dracula women on the front. All of the guitars and bass have the 007 logo from when White did the theme song “Another Way To Die” for the latest Bond movie. White is also featured in an extremely popular documentary traveling around the independent theaters called It Might Get Loud. In the movie Jimmy Page, The Edge from U2 and White are featured in separate segments explaining how they use the “sound” of the guitar and don’t just strum away. It comes to the Lagoon Theater in Uptown on September 18th and the reviews from everyone have been that it is a great documentary.

After the show ended we rushed out of the venue to try to catch Jack White, but The Depot had the bus for the band parked in its brick back area and the entrance was blocked by many security guards. You couldn’t get within 20 feet of the band and we were just about to leave as White came out the back door, waved at the fans and got onto his bus.

Disappointed and tired we decided to leave as there was no way to get to the bus, but then two young guys came running out from behind the building and said that they had just shook White’s hand. I asked them how they got that close to the bus and they led me around to the rear of the building where there were prison-like bars set up. Behind the bars the band’s crew was packing up their equipment and loading the bus.

This was a funny scene because the young guys were underage and had climbed up the cage to hear the band during the show. Now that the show was over they were heckling the roadies as they packed up the band’s equipment. When they overheard that one of the roadies’ names was Ryan they kept saying things like, “Come on Ryan, can’t you get Jack White to come out?” When a woman asked for a guitar pick for her fictitious son in prison Ryan finally relented and gave her a pick. The youngsters then focused their attention on another roadie named Chris after he joked that Ryan had a fan club here in Salt Lake. “Awe Ryan,” the heckler kid yelled. “We thought we knew you… I guess you are too good for us now.”

A few minutes later one of the underage guys grabbed/stole a broken kick drum head by reaching through the bars. When lead singer Mosshart came out a moment later they had her sign their bounty. They also gave her their lighter and told her to give it “back” to Jack White. Later when Ryan came back they bugged him to go in the bus get their lighter back from Alison.

After bassist Jack “LJ” Lawrence came out and signed a few autographs Fertita came out and did the same. He also remembered my wife and me from talking with him inMinneapolis and Denver. When I told him it was my birthday he offered to take mySalt Lake City concert poster onto the bus and see if White would sign it. All 6 of us huddled back behind the bars, held our breath, and were shocked.

A few minutes later the band’s manager came out with the poster, apologized and said Jack had fallen asleep. Bummer.

Oh well, that is how it goes. It was amazing watching Jack White play the guitar three times less than 3 feet in front of me. In all three cities I had a chance to speak with the rest of the band. Alison talked about how the sudden fame was great, Dean talked about Duluth and Queens of the Stone Age, and in typical fashion LJ just said “wow” when he heard how far we drove. Granted we felt like groupies following a band around, but it was one more item to cross off the bucket list. I had seen The White Stripes twice, the Raconteurs twice, and now The Dead Weather three times. For The White Stripes the closest I ever sat was 7th row at the Orpheum, and for the Raconteurs I had been in the sound booth at First Avenue and behind thousands of people at Lollapalooza in 2008. At all three of The Dead Weather shows I was front row and took a million pictures and short videos. Go for more pictures and a few videos.