story by Jenn Hernandez
Oh, Jack White and your non-underwear wearin' ways (if you went to the show, this makes sense).
I hate the fact that the Raconteurs are described in terms of being White's new band, because these guys stand on their own. With a little Black Keys, a little Led Zeppelin, and more soul than a Southern Baptist church, there is something to be in awe about with the electricity demonstrated from this four piece on their debut record, Broken Boy Soldiers.
That being said, the Raconteurs are one baby step away from perfection. They sound like with just one more practice after school at one of the members' houses, they could win the high school Battle of the Bands. Thursday night's free in-store performance at Amoeba Records in San Francisco was thrilling, entertaining, and indie rock-tastic. The store had closed down for the evening and then reopened specially for the band, with lines going down two blocks and winding around the corner at one point. Every aisle was full from the gospel and rockabilly section to the new age crap, and as a result, my puny head didn't get to see much. But I know something fierce and unbridled took over that small platform stage, and though I couldn't see a whole lot during the 40-minute performance, I did see enough long, stringy hair thrashed about during the guitar solos.
The Raconteurs don't sound like "the next White Stripes album they should have done" or "Brendan Benson's way to garage band heaven." They sound like four guys who wanted to make a bluesy-folky-string-riddled album and got together over some good BBQ and beer. It's obvious to see where White's string plucking from the Stripes albums play an influence, and how the Greenhornes' Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler rhythm section skills fall into place, and how everyone's lyric skills come together for a cohesion of storytelling and raucous behavior.
But seeing "Hands" live, an explosive dynamic of slide guitar and White nearly screaming "The boy never gets older" while spasming onstage to Keeler's loud bass drum, this is all the Raconteurs spotlight and no one else's. Their energy last night was purely fueled by audience enthusiasm. I was actually surprised that so many people knew the words for as recent as the new album is.
The Raconteurs set last night consisted of jams from the LP, varying from first single "Steady As She Goes" to the album's title track. As White bid the audience farewell, Lawrence started up the bass line to ending track "Blue Veins," and it was incredible to note how quiet people became. The heavy and lulling sounds of that bass is its defining sound, and the sexiness emanating from a single set of notes and titter on the cymbals is utterly amazing. The band extended the two and half minute track to a goof five minute jam session; I imagined running into them at the Boom Boom Room or Club Deluxe.
Come July, these guys are going to burn the Warfield down. Get excited.