Ed. Note: Rumors are floating around about a third Stripes show here, before the Rudz date. If anyone can confirm this, please let us know.
About an hour ago, Rocks Off got the news over Twitter that the White Stripes, easily the biggest indie-duo of the past decade, had decided to part after 14 years of existence. The news was met with a collective shudder from fans and novices alike, most who had never seen the Whites live before.
In a sweetly forlorn letter on the band's official site, Jack and Meg White said goodbye to their fans, letting everyone know that it was not a terse or angry decision. The way the duo sees it, it was to preserve what they had made those first few years.
But you cannot discount Jack White's increasing rep as an veritable music machine in any of this. He's a producer and an impresario now with his Nashville-based Third Man label, most recently producing Wanda Jackson's "comeback" album.
He's been busy with his own bands like the Dead Weather and the Raconteurs, who are each like Technicolor explosions compared to the bare bones of the Stripes. There was a naivete in the Stripes not heard in the other two bands.
Rocks Off a sort of emotional connection to the Stripes that we can't let go of. They soundtracked some of the coolest moments in our life, and we had the best times with some of the best people we will ever know while in the band's presence, on record and live.
We can say we saw the Stripes only once, and that was at Voodoo Fest in New Orleans in 2003 over Halloween weekend, on a bill that weekend that included the Stooges, The Stripes, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Marilyn Manson. We sat next to our Meg White lookalike girlfriend the whole time, right next to the front gate and had our eardrums destroyed for an hour and a half.
Two of the coolest things about that show was the slowed-down version of "Fell In Love With a Girl", that wasn't at all like the radio hit that put them on the national map, and the cover of Screaming Lord Sutch's "Jack The Ripper." Also, we had a huge crush on Meg White, so our photos from that show tend to feature a lot of side action shots. There are a few choice Jack pics too.
According to Songkick, the Stripes only came to Houston twice, on Sept. 14, 2001 at Rudyard's with the Greenhornes, and June 24, 2003 at Verizon Wireless Theater. We missed both - the Rudz gig because we were closing up the dairy section at Kroger and only 18, and the Verizon show because we had just come home from a six-month vacation in San Diego and we were tired.
You can find breakdowns of both shows, including setlists and a note about Jack yelling at Rudz hipsters right here. From the looks of it, the Verizon show was a marathon run of Leadbelly and Son House covers, plus most of the best songs from that year's Elephant album.
You can find the entire Rudz show on YouTube by searching "White Stripes Houston Concert." Someone has compiled all the videos onto this Songkick page as well.
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Back when the Chronicle actually reviewed rock shows (in print, even), here's what Michael D. Clark had to say about that summer evening at Verizon: "Dressed in comfortable red, white and black cotton, Jack and Meg were the Willy Wonkas of a peppermint punk-rock kingdom."
The king and queen are dead. Long live the king and queen.