DEAD WEATHER SECRET SHOW

story and illustration by chris duffy

Chaos.

I had set my alarm for 5:32 A.M. and had dutifully woken up without a struggle or an achingly exhausted body. I was prepared. I was ready.

I had read the night before about a planned Dead Weather free show and hoped to be allowed entrance. I learned that the first 100 people into the Third Man Records store in Manhattan would receive access to this free show, and so my alarm was set.

Artist: The Dead Weather
Song: Treat Me Like Your Mother


I reached the line outside the Third Man Records pop-up store on Chrystie Street a bit before 7 A.M. and was number fifty in line. This meant I would make it in to the free “secret” show that was planned to happen.

The Dead Weather were (are) in town to play at Terminal 5 and to mark the occasion, I guess Mr. Jack White, the band’s drummer/producer/spokesman thought, ‘Why not throw in a free show ?’

The pop-up record store idea seemed very neat and in my head I had a vision of shelves on walls, islands of racks containing red, black and white toys and bins of hard-to-find artifacts and trinkets. But this was not the case.

The entire operation was behind schedule and a manger involved with the company, a gentleman named Matt, paced up and down the gradually elongating line. He was obviously frazzled and overwhelmed with the whole ordeal. It seemed that a lot more people showed up than planned. At places the line was interfering with the early morning routines of Chinatown businesses, who’s owners and employees seemed rightly confused by the entire situation.

Groups of fans and patrons were allowed to enter the store in even groups of fifty and twenty-five. This was after 11:00 A.M. Admittance was supposed to occur at 10:00 A.M. So much for planning…

Once inside, I struggled to make my way to the single wall where merchandise was displayed. The space was far smaller than I imagined. Bodies scrambled over each other to get to the vinyl and other goods. There were limited edition metal posters for $125 that were being bought up, most likely for re-sale. There was a Raconteurs item called a Stylophone, which was a mini, portable organ. There were Jack and Meg cameras that were ( if not still) available on the White Stripes’ website. One purchaser had a rare copy of Get Behind Me Satan on vinyl which, he informed me, he was willing to drop the required 250 to obtain. Overall the merchandise was extremely less abundant than I had pictured and the store atmosphere was…

Chaos.

After purchases were made, people started clogging the single entrance to the store, thinking they were lining up to be allowed entrance to the free show. This was to be held underneath the store space in a a dank armpit of a bar called Home Sweet Home, not a horrible place for a drink and a dance, but for housing a situation like this…I could find no redeeming quality for it’s selection.

Eventually the scene outside the store became… Chaos.

The first store patrons with hand stamps to see the show huddled in an unorganized mass of bodies cluttered around the line still filing in to just buy whatever was left in the store. Hired security personnel struggled to create some sort of organization.

Finally a sloppy line of the privileged few was amassed along the block and we were allowed entrance into the dim recesses of the bar where the ceiling swooped just over our heads and it smelled like bodies. And Chaos.

It was planned that 100-125 people would be allowed into the show. I spoke with one of the security guards later and learned that actually about 179 bodies were granted access to the cavern below.

I saw nothing except sweaty heads bobbing in front of me. Sweat gathered where it usually does, on everyone. At first people were pushing, cramming and squirming to get closer, but once all realized this exerted force was in vain, everyone came to to terms with their placement and the situation. So the exhausted, sweltering bodies just grooved to the tunes once the band arrived.

The Dead Weather, a.k.a. Jack White’s other other-band, is a solid, down to the bone-marrow rock band which employs steady beats, guitar wails and simplistic songs rendered with authority and mastery. It’s not mind-boggling. It’s what you would expect, which is not to say it’s bad, because it isn’t. It’s just…well, it’s Jack White’s other other-band.

Unfortunately that’s how the band will forever be categorized due to it’s most talented and well-known member. But rightly so. The music that seeps from the speakers, on your headphones or the band’s amps is completely in tune with Mr. White’s capabilities, interests and previous output. His drumming is frantic, energetic and in general not bad, not surprising seeing as it was the first instrument he ever had serious experience with.

But much credit is due to the other members who’s tastes round-out the ensemble’s output. Alison Mosshart’s bansheeing vocals, Dean Fertita’s guitar and keys concoctions and Jack Lawrence’s rock of Gibraltar bass maneuvers hold up and are essentially what make the songs. Jack’s rolls and rollicking beats are well displayed, but certainly not as vital as his contributions to the White Stripes or the Raconteurs.

Throughout the show I only witnessed a mass of raised cameras, cell phones doubling as cameras and fellow viewers hobbling on tip-toe to catch a glimpse of something.

You could probably catch some footage from the show ( as I plan on doing) on Youtube at some point. In truth, I wish that’s all I planned on doing today.

I crawled out of the depths of the bar and to the street only to regret the last 6 hours. I was sticky, smelly, tired, thirsty, hungry. At least the music was good. And above all, thank God it was free.

Free chaos.

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