The White Stripes at Irving Plaza
New York City, June 19, 2007
On Friday night, I read that the White Stripes were going to play a “secret show” at Irving Plaza in NYC on Tuesday the 19th. Even though I had all the albums, I just never got around to seeing them live. Now, on the verge of the release of Icky Thump, they’re a huge act scheduled to play Madison Square Garden in July.
The chance to see them in a small club might not come again. All I had to do was get a ticket.
To prevent scalpers, tickets were only on sale at the box office the next day, starting at 10 am. Cash only. Two ticket maximum. $30. Which means if I got there at 8, the line would already be around the block, and I’d never get a ticket.
I decided to go to bed early, get up at 5 am, roll out of bed and get there at 6 am and be first in line.
So, according to my plan, I arrived at the venue a little before six to discover that I was 133rd in line. Well, since Irving Plaza holds more than 266 people, at least I knew I’d be getting tickets. I only had 4 or 5 hours to kill…
/ / /
On Tuesday, after a full day of work with hardly a break and no time to eat a thing, I jumped in a cab for Irving Plaza where we waited in another line to get in. By this time my feet were aching. I was tired, hungry, thirsty…
Finally, at 8:30 were inside. We made it about 10 or 15 feet from the stage and planted ourselves for the night, sardines in a can, you know the drill. I am not good at being on my feet all day and all night, and I really had to fight the urge to go to the back of the bar and grab a seat.
But I needed to be close! I wanted to have Jack White’s sweat fly in my face! I wanted to see Meg’s scrunched up face when she plays!
After an opening vaudeville act, the White Stripes came on at 10:45 to a stage bathed in red light, with all red and white instruments. I hadn’t been to see a rock band in a small venue in a while, and suddenly it hit me: this is rock and roll at its finest. In a tightly packed room, with everyone on top of each other, pushing and shoving, being tired and hot and sweaty, your ears ringing.
You can’t get this at a 18,000 seat arena.
This was like a local neighborhood gig, except the band onstage is a world-famous act.
It’s amazing how these two people can make a noise like they do. With the reverb cranked up high, Jack’s vocals soared, his guitar shredded chords and Meg’s drumming was simple and tribal.
I was so tired that it all seems like a blur. Jack hardly spoke between songs. They just played their hearts out and the audience sang along and cheered. Fists were pumped into the air. An early highlight was “Hotel Yorba” for which people were stamping their feet so hard, I thought the floor might cave in.
Before the encore, I left the floor and made my way to the back of the bar and got a bottle of water and grabbed a stool. I had to rest and recuperate. I watched the rest of the show from there.
To their credit, the band was selling their concert t-shirts for only $5! I chose to buy a gorgeous poster that was designed for this very show. It has the name of the venue, and even the opening act on it, with the skyline of downtown NYC. $30 on heavy stock paper…suitable for framing!
I jumped in a cab, headed home. Got to bed at 2 am only to wake up four hours later for another work day. Long live rock and roll!
When I Hear My Name
Dead Leaves In The Dirty Ground
John The Revelator
Slowly Turning Into You
I Think I Smell A Rat
Same Boy You’ve Always Known
Catch Hell Blues
St James Infirmary Blues
Cold Cold Night
I Want To Be The Boy Who Warms Your Mother’s Heart
You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket
Rag And Bone
Black Jack Davie
I’m a martyr For My Love For You
I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself
Ball And Biscuit
More photos by Russ Turk.