White Stripes

Icky Thump/Tower Records, June 20, 2007

By Ryan Ward

All photos by Timothy Norris – Click here for a slideshow of the concert

If you had but one standout moment in your career, you first of all would not be The White Stripes. But their colonization of the recently retired Sunset Tower Records building, repainted in their token chromatic red and white glory for the Icky Thump L.A. record release party, would definitely go down in history as one of the most clever and heart-warming moves in rock and roll history. A duly needed re-instatement of power to one of our city's most hailed Meccas of music momentarily shocked back to life by the likes of two garage rock enigmas.

The idea was classic: Make them wait…

A line of sweet-toothed rock fans began forming in the vacant Tower parking lot in the earlier hours of of Saturday ensuring the most adamant White Stripes stalwarts a chance to experience an exclusive (and free) pajama-party-esque in-store engagement the following Wednesday night with the gracious rock duo. They stood (and slept) as a motley crew of Oakley-sporting forty-something arena rockers along side peg-jeaned teen-aged Eastsiders, hailing from Bakersfield to Detroit.If their nerves and tents held up, the first 200 would claim a wristband for the performance. The Icky Thump store began selling the album Monday at midnight and remains open through Friday.

Early Wednesday that same crowd victoriously reconvened, pleasantly brainwashed with White Stripes propaganda (in case you aren't already battling an icky, thumping headache over the their media barrage, just try to spot the five + magazine covers they've currently co-opted on any given newstand). Their publicity team deserves a medal.

Christmas has come early. Peppermint-striped cigarette girls hawking dildo-sized candy canes and other White Stripes mementos circled the crowd. The other Jack, Jack Black, introduced the duo.

Then Jack and Meg unleashed a performance ferocious enough to crumble the building to its foundation a good few months before its slated demolition (as was the gossip throughout the night). Jack's falsetto and slicing guitar chops threatened to deteriorate the crowds' eardrums by ten years in ten minutes. By the end of the second song, everyone, band included, was drenched in sweat, as ventilation in the room was non-exsistant. They drilled favorites like “Hotel Yorba” and “Seven Nation Army” into the diehard fans, as well as a few new instant classics from Icky Thump.

The crowd was thrilled. The band was excited – and grateful.

“It's great to have a chance to play at such an important place in this city's musical history… thank you all for making it happen,” Jack nodded. In that little room they played like they were back in Hamtramck, Michigan, proving again that rock and roll is not dead. As manic and innocent as always, the Stripes reached another high-water mark, while momentarily breathing life back into the gasping Sunset Strip music scene.

I'm telling you, The White Stripes are still around because they need to be.

More photos here.

–Ryan Ward

LA Weekly