Features | Concerts

The White Stripes

By Peter Hepburn | 28 November 2003

I've had to explain to my fellow Hoyas why our fine institution of higher education, Georgetown University, can't seem to ever get any decent bands to perform on campus. Basically my answer comes to this: we have no venue worthy of a decent act. George Washington on the other hand, was supposed to have an excellent site. I was misled, or perhaps such a venue does exist and was simply not used for the show. The Smith Center, however, is in very few ways a good place to see a concert because, very simply, it's a basketball arena. Sight lines are bad, sound isn't done particularly well, and it's too big for the Stripes.

Well, now that I've got that out of my system, the concert was actually pretty good. I missed the openers, Whirlwind Heat, but I'd read enough bad reviews to not be horribly troubled by this. Talking with some fellow concert-goers after the show the highest praise they were awarded was "jarring." The White Stripes themselves took the stage dressed in, you guessed it, red and black, and opened with "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," the second single off of White Blood Cells.

They ripped through a few songs, mostly off of De Stijl, quite arguably their best album, and White Blood Cells, before Jack addressed the audience (yeah, they're still maintaining the sister-brother shtick and he's still affecting the British accent). The set was dominated by songs off those two records, although they did the Bob Dylan cover "One More Cup of Coffee" off of their self-titled debut album, and a number of songs from Elephant. Notable among that bunch was crowd-favorite "Cold, Cold Night" with Meg on vocals, thankfully taking her off the drums. She has certainly improved over the last few years, but she still plays like a mentally-challenged chimp. If Jack got himself a real band he could do very well for himself (hell, if he lost the red pants and got a haircut he's just about pale enough to try out for Interpol).

Show highlights were "Hello Operator," "Death Letter," and "Ball and Biscuit," played as the first song of the encore and which showcased Jack's impressive talent on the guitar. As one of the guys behind me put it so astutely, "he plays the fuck out of that thing." "Apple Blossom" fared particularly poorly from Meg's drumming, but the slowed down version of "Fell in love with a Girl" was actually helped along by her lack of syncopation. All the same it was clearly "Seven Nation Army" that most people were there for, and seemingly the only song that a majority of the people even knew.

Overall, it was a good show. Although the venue was certainly lacking, and Meg's drumming was about what we have come to expect (you think there's some way to disguise Janet Weiss as Meg?), Jack's guitar prowess more than made up for both. Also, reliance on their earlier, more powerful material was certainly a good idea-I'd rather hear "You're Pretty Good Looking (for a Girl)" any day over "Black Math" or "The Air Near My Fingers."