When Jack White is about to launch into “Jolene” on the live White Stripes DVD Under Blackpool Lights, he says to the crowd, “I’m in the right place at the wrong time? I feel like that every day.” While the White Stripes seem to be victims of that unique situation (in my compulsive listening to Get Behind Me Satan, I’m currently enjoying the idea that the entire record was written about Rita Hayworth and there were pin-ups of her all around the studio when they were recording) fellow Detroiters, Blanche, seem to suffer from the same condition, but to the nth degree. Blanche is an old-timey band. Last night at the Mercury Lounge the air conditioning was on the fritz, but lead Blancher, Dan John Miller, pedal steel man Feeny and banjo/autoharp rocker Little Jack Lawrence were all in suits, wool and polyester, as Dan informed the sweaty sticky audience. The strangest part is that it didn’t seem odd or even shticky; I can’t even imagine any of them owning a pair of Levis or a T-shirt. The last time I’d seen Blanche they were opening for the Kills and they were a country shock to the crowd of hipsters who’d shown up to ogle the sexy duo. Bass player, sometimes singer Tracee Mae Miller was statuesque with her big bee-hived red hair, floor length white dress and aloof/shy demeanor, the boys were in suits, and the music was the kind of stuff you bob your head too, not the kind of stuff you fuck too.
Blanche remain, without question, an old-timey band, they encored with “Wayfaring Stranger” last night, for goodness sake. Although it must be said, their live show has become a different, but more intriguing beast as they’ve made their way across the country. Most noticeable is Tracee Mae - girl has become a sex-pot on the road, she even showed some calf last night on stage and is currently sporting a shorter black ‘do, a la Joan Crawford in “Strange Cargo.” They performed a more “rock” heavy set as well, leaving out some of the slower tunes and waltzes off their V2 debut If We Can’t Trust the Doctors… in favor of barn burners like “Who’s To Say,” “Garbage Picker,” and “Do You Trust Me?” My personal fave, the epic “Jack On Fire,” (seriously, check it on iTunes) went over like gang busters, and when black nail-polished and black eye-shadowed Tracee Mae sang, “I will fuck you until you die,” you could feel the entire crowd perk up. Those words, coming from a gothed-out porcelain doll makes you wonder if she’s pledging fidelity or offering to usher you into the netherworld in the dirtiest way possible. Blanche closed the set with their signature fade-out track “Someday…” with Tracee Mae on drums and Lisa Jaybird Jannon stepping out from behind the kit to rock Dan’s guitar. A familiar end to a surprising set. Check out Blanche on the rest of their tour with the Ditty Bops and get some sexy old-timey schooling.