We first started hearing the rumors last Thursday ? FREE SHOW in Union Square ? White Stripes. First, it was Monday, then it was Tuesday, then KROCK was behind it. OK, but we all knew where we were going to be Tuesday at noon. Can you ask for a better lunchtime present on a beautiful 80 degree October day in NY City? Really, who would you rather have lunch with? I know Jack & Meg are in my top 3 choices.
The stage was set up on the Northeast corner of Union Square, with Park Ave South behind the stage and 16th street to stage right. At 11:30 AM, it was crowded, not packed, as my red and white shirt and I strolled up to the area to begin my ritual surveying of the scene before I pick my spot. Though for this gig, it was simple, do I want to see Meg's front or back?
12:06 PM - the park was packed and the band walked on stage. Meg in white pants, red shirt and pigtails. Jack came on cigarette in hand in all red and with a newly designed red and white paperclip necklace.
A few chords from Jack and then away we went, blasting into the first single off their first record, "The Big Three Killed My Baby". If you are a fan of this band then you should know this tune. If you don't, then buy the self titled debut record, put on track three and get ready to bleed. Next, they leapt right into "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" and Dolly Parton's "Jolene."
Jack greeted the crowd and thanked everyone for skipping school and work to come out to the show. He then said that it makes Meg very happy that we were all there. "I had breakfast with Meg White this morning and she told me she would be happy" he said. The wind was blowing but it was hot as hell out and the blues were actually making the concrete softer. I was sinking as Jack hopped around during each thunderous chord while always making sure he knew what Meg's next move was (even before Meg knew it herself). If you look real close, you might see that Jack is actually playing the drums and the guitar.
The set moved along very well with the beautiful Manhattan building backdrop behind the candy-striped duo, who delighted us with "Apple Blossom," "Hello Operator," "Hotel Yorba" and another first album classic, "Sugar Never Tasted So Good." Jack White is pure genius and always the perfect gentleman. He actually apologized to the crowd because he changed his mind last minute and switched guitars. He said "Sorry to waste your time, I just want to switch guitars." Oh no, we didn't mind one bit, especially since he picked up that now famous slide guitar and ripped into "Death Letter." The solos on that tune increased the temperature by five degrees. What a delight to be in the presence of this musician.
Meg did her best by keeping time and bopping back and forth with those extra long drum sticks with the black tape at the ends. The pigtails were flying everywhere. But poor Meg, she was facing directly into the sun. Her face began to look as red as her shirt halfway through the set. I almost ran to Duane Reade to buy some sunblock to throw up on stage but I really couldn't miss a single note.
Meg took the mike next with their ever famous cover of "Rated X." What a lovely voice. I hope on their forthcoming record Elephants she might take a shot at singing lead on an original tune. What do you think, Jack? On to another cover of Dylan's "Love Sick" and into David Goldberg and Katie Cohen's favorite "We're Going to Be Friends."
A little bit after 1:00 PM, I could see those union cocks beginning to get restless and start walking back and forth behind the stage: it was time to cut the band off. But Jack kept going and finally after a few attempts to cut power and Jack asking us if we can hear him, the vocals were turned off mid-song. So with true class, and in true gentleman Jack White style, during "Lookin for a Home," he told the crowd to be quiet and he would finish the tune without the PA and he did just that. This was more delightful then any James Lipton Actor's Studio interview ever. Meg tapped the tamberine while Jackie White serenaded us sans PA in the middle of Union Square. This shit was religious. I thought the concrete was going to part and Noah's Ark was going to come up to gives us a ride back to work. It was just beautiful and handled so classy after those union rats turned the PA off. Please.
They finished the tune, took their final bows and we all thanked them and cheered and the duo for a main course of rock and blues during our Tuesday lunch hour in NYC.
After the gig , there was a ton of positive commotion across the street. A huge truck with speakers on the doors playing The Strokes, magazines and posters being handed out.. everyone wanting a piece of this action. Was that the Fader Magazine & their vehicle turning it out?
"The Big Three Killed My Baby"
"Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground"
"You're Pretty Good Looking"
"We're Going to Be Friends"
"Sugar Never Tasted So Good"
"Lookin For a Home"