Josh Groban might make the closed captions sing, but it’s Will.i.am‘s world to steal. Did you hear the news? i.am and his band, Los Angeles-based underground Tybo fighting champions and dance-pop vocal trio the Black Eyed Peas, have with this week’s activity on the Hot 100 been officially canonized by the ruling order of their native Mars. Their jerseys were also retired. But don’t switch off your hologram machines just yet, Midwestern children — “I gotta feelin'” your product placement party visionary and beloved spin move endorser is still gonna hologram his way across the nation. Will.he.WILL!
Between Fergie-offs at the local Y and keeping up with all Will’s tweets from the gaseous fog near Phobos (“I don’t even know where that is, but it sounds hologro-mantic!“), it can be difficult to remember that there’s a real rock ‘n’ roll band behind the digitized neon smoke and bedazzled mirrors. That’s right, and they’re called the Dead Weather.
Jack White on drums, VV from the Kills, Fertita on an arsenal of rustamplified tremolo, and “Little” Jack Lawrence. It’s the Dead Weather, and they’re bringing fetishized 90s modern rock to a sold out club near you. It’s true. This week at the Vic, the quartet conjured pointillistic sleaze from stylized poise. It was loud, the timing was there, and the dude-heavy audience mooned more over Jack as periodic frontman or designated shredder than they ever did for Alison Mosshart‘s big takeover of the stage and band as her own. Listening to Horehound, it’s as difficult to forget that DW aren’t Just Jack through and through as it is to get Will.i.am to leave once he’d hologram’d his way into your walk-in freezer. From the jerky, trigger finger cattle prod time signatures to the slither of blues at the album’s core — not to mention his telltale yawp when it goes all croaky Beck during “Cut Like a Buffalo” — it’s still and all White’s album. But that’s only because, on record, Mosshart isn’t stalking the stage in front of you like a bowie knife dipped in Osmiroid.
White wants that to happen, too. You can watch his control manifest. Dead Weather’s gear was a pristine mix of the vintage, strange and powerful in colors of ivory and black. The Fedoras were out in force as stagehands and techs. And while it regularly burned at the edges, the band’s set was as rigid and presented as an appearance on the fantasy late-night variety show on repeat in Jack White’s skull. When he introduced the players and thanked the crowd with a quick aw shucks, it was perfectly affected Opry speak. A Porter Wagoner-approved moment. All of that was the control button jammed into the sound board. But whenever Mosshart scissored into the middle of the frame, White tried like mad to disappear into his drum set, to become whatever she demanded of her musicians. And whatever VV wants, VV gets.
She and the Dead Weather could’ve gotten some more hooks. That would have been nice. They’re adept at slouching into some soupy psych thing, finding its grounding wire, and tweaking it until the veins burst into purple and pink geysers. But the cycle started leading more and more to other, deeper geysers, instead of a few more hooks to really charge the whole bit into Alannah Myles fronting Queens of the Stone Age. Maybe on the next album. By then, Will.i.am will have had Mars reshaped in the form of his head, and the chart will be renamed the Black Eyed Peas 100.
“I gotta feelin.”
Each week Johnny Loftus will select a song from your hit parade to explicate, celebrate, or humiliate.