The Dead Weather & Screaming Females: Terminal 5, New York, NY 7/18/09

Jack White’s newest offering stomped into NYC on a humid July night and crunched to a sold-out-fired-up house in Terminal 5.  This time the “supergroup” comes equipped with Allison Mosshart from The Kills, Dean Fertita from Queens of the Stone Age and Jack Lawrence best known as playing bass in White’s other “supergroup” The Raconteurs.  Before we get to them though, a word or twenty about the opener Screaming Females. 


A trio whose easiest (laziest?) reference point would be Sleater-Kinney, it is hard to pigeonhole what was happening on stage.  At its core this is bouncing low-end fueled punk rock with jagged timings, caterwaul’s and cock rock guitar solos by the only female in the band Marissa Paternoster.  Dressed as if she was staring in Little House on The Prairie, Paternoster came on screeching like a banshee.  Her scorched earth guitar playing fluctuates from noisy one measure to technically brilliant the next, in fact so can her singing.  The band name applies aptly when straight up screams erupt after pitch perfect vocals.  They could be poppy one minute (“Bell”) ear splitting the next (“Boyfriend”), overall the group was unsettling (a good thing) and engaging (a very good thing).  Guitar geeks also take note; a shredding hero is lurking inside the petite Paternoster.


When The Dead Weather took the stage White’s kick drum instantly burst eardrums as they opened with “60 Feet Tall”.  This music is blues in the truest sense, rhythmic naked and raw to go along with a touch of evil.  Music that cries over scorned lovers, but then gives you a soundtrack to listen to while tying them up once they come crawling back. 


The sexual energy and innuendos are vivid and constant no matter if Mosshart is slinking around the stage singing to their riff heavy cover of “A Child Of A Few Hours Is Burning to Death” or standing strumming and crooning suggestively on the original “So Far From Your Weapon”.  Hip-pounding blues are the foundation but something special happens when the band gets their mitts filthy.  Dark tribal metal was shot to the rafters on “Hang You From The Heavens”, “Treat Me Like Your Mother” and the drone heavy cover of Pentagrams “Forever My Queen”.  Dirty Metal may be the best way to describe it, and feeling its force live is the best way to experience it. 


Mosshart rules the stage and gives it a sultry charm but there is rock royalty on the skins and when he chooses to emerge everyone waits with baited breath.  White came forward to simply sing on the cover of Them’s “You Just Can’t Win” (He sure digs deep for these covers) and then strapped on his six string for the set closing “Will There Be Enough Water?”  Combining with Mosshart on the vocals White then came alive and ripped the solo’s to shreds with his ferocious playing.  By the time the fuzz laden cover of Dylan’s “New Pony” ended the encore even doubters had to admit that another successful “supergroup” had come together.  With Fertita and Lawrence adding the noise and the groove, White the primal pounding and Mosshart the voice, The Dead Weather’s grime stained successfully tonight.                   

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