Sometimes bands come along that burn so hot and bright that words fail you. And sometimes all you can do at their shows is stand there with your hands at your side in utter shock at what you are seeing. If you were at Dead Weather on Saturday night, you perhaps still feel this even as you sit in a cubicle or in a car waiting for lunch this Monday morning. The Dead Weather show Saturday night at the House of Blues is the reason that rock and roll crosses sexual, aural and mental bounds. It's why people play air guitar in their bedrooms; it's why girls hike up their skirts a tad more when they hit the rock club, and why you would still miss a mortgage payment to see the Rolling Stones from two miles away. Saturday night also made us question what team we play for at least once (OK, thrice), and made us reaffirm that females make better frontmen than men do. Women are dangerous; men can be tamed and whipped. A woman with a microphone is deadly. The Ettes opened for the Dead Weather with not an opening act-strained show, but a headliner one. With her yelp and the band's Detroit Cobras stomp, singer Lindsay "Coco" Hames came off like an indie-rock Loretta Lynn. For an hour, they ruled the house, and had people clapping in time within three songs. Set up on the lip of the stage, the band engulfed the front of the venue with garage-rock snarl. They need to come back to Houston, and it needs to be somewhere snug. The Dead Weather is billed in the eyes of the music populace as "Jack White's band," but anyone who witnessed what Alison Mosshart did for nearly two hours attests that White is merely her side man, even if she is in his employ. From song one, "60 Feet Tall," Aftermath was transfixed by Mosshart as if we had never seen a woman before in our 27 years. Each thrust of her raven hair and that snaky yowl was like a knife in our nether regions. For once, this was a good thing. The interplay between Mosshart, White, Jack Lawrence, and Dean Fertita was feral. We use "feral" a lot in our concert reviews, but it really fit Saturday night. It's as if the only thing holding back Mosshart from opening up her mouth and swallowing the venue whole is the band itself. With the music, they kept her in line. Her body is very much an instrument just like White's drums or Lawrence's guitar. Three songs in, White came forward from his drum kit for a cover of Them's "You Just Can't Win," which was apropos seeing that Them fronter Van Morrison himself was at that moment probably closing his set out at the Woodlands in front of Aftermath the Elder. Anything that Morrison did that night wouldn't have been able to hold the box of matches that lit the bonfire of White's version.[Ed. Note: True enough... stay tuned.]
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He played half the song up front cradling a mike, and the other half on drums and vocals. If we were a woman, we would have rushed the stage in heat, but since we are but a man, we stood quietly and tweeted about our lust. The Dead Weather sounded metallic all the way through, trafficking in the proto-metal avenues down which the likes of Blue Cheer, Deep Purple and the Stooges at their grimiest caroused. We even felt swatches of industrial and post-punk throughout, with Mosshart acting like a post-op Peter Murphy. The foreboding mood stayed the same for an hour and half, with the only thing changing how each corner was shaded. Some songs were angry, and some would make a dead man come. The new "Die by the Drop" loped through the room like a ghostly steed with Mosshart riding him on the top of our heads. Towards the end of the night, "Will There Be Enough Water" happened to us. White came out solo on a small square electric guitar, playing riffs that should be cut up into lines and snorted off a mirror. Mosshart came out behind him smoking a cigarette, giving him the sort of look you only see in porno reels. If you saw it, you would have looked away out of sheer self-preservation. Then they played the duration of the six-minute dirge locked in a threesome with the mike in the front of the stage. As for "New Pony," well, that featured Mosshart howling about a pony named Lucifer which scared us and made us sweat way too much. Something about her screaming "pony" up front didn't seem legal and made us feel dirty. "I Cut like a Buffalo" ended our night like a cold wet towel being snapped in our face. Mosshart jumped on a riser on the stage and looked at all of us like she owned us, and she did. For the first time in our history as a rock writer, we went not directly to a bar to bathe in the afterglow of a show; we actually went directly to the office to write down what we just saw. As we sit here, we can hear people driving through town listening to the Dead Weather. It's that raw and fresh.