Part 2 of The Best of the Westerns

The Week The Modern Age Pretended to Be From California
Read Part 1

APRIL 27, 2003

Wait a minute — there’s ANOTHER day of deadly heat and music? Dear Jesus. Gathers body parts, leaves Palm Dessert around 11 AM. Drives to Indio. Spots “Westward Ho” again. Still funny. Laughs.


Heads to press tent and meets up with Melody Nelson and Vince. Spots The Polyphonic Spree doing a photoshoot by the fountain. Loses track of time and ends up running over to Coachella Stage as Whirlwind Heat start their set. Crowd surprisingly receptive to the band. The boys are sporting the now standard Terry Richardson shirts, “poo brown” pants, and white karate shoes. Jack White, wearing a black suit with a red tie and shoes and a black bowler hat, stands sidestage watching his proteges wriggle, squiggle, and smash around the stage in the haphazard nature of most WH sets. Clap clap clap wooh!

The Soundtrack of Our Lives -- CLICK ON FOR BIGGER IMAGE

Next up is The Soundtrack of Our Lives. Having previously seen them open up for Oasis and calling them “Spinal Tap personified,” our expectations and excitement level was on the low end. In a sea of Swedish bands we don’t get, they top the pile of Swede bands we really don’t get. A few days later Alyse stated to us with bafflement in her voice, “I didn’t know they were so classic rock.” Indeed.

TSOOL’s lack-luster performance slips from our memory as soon as it happens, minus one thing. One of the guitar players wears a nifty British flag blazer, which is a far better fashion choice then the last time we saw him wearing an open gold-lame shirt, but far more confusing because, yes, we could swear that he’s not British. Having never really come across Swedish Anglofiles (usually we only spot Anglofiles of the 15-year-old girl nature, wearing argyle socks), we’re caught a bit off guard. But no matter — we’re hungry — time for food.

Grabs a real hamburger for lunch. While standing underneath the beer garden tent, spots Carrie Von Bondie then Jason Von Bondie than Marcie Von Bondie. Spots Mister Jack White going toward the tour trailers, still wearing the black suit. Soon after he walks past us, we spot a herd of 5 teenagers clad in black t-shirts and baggy jeans walking 7 feet behind him. Eventually we see them stop him and have him sign a number of things and take pictures. He complies. Later we see this same herd stop the un-uniformed members of Whirlwind Heat. Apparently a traveling group of Michigan-band fans.

A crazy looking man wearing a sleazy ‘stash, huge sunglasses, and too-tight shorts rides recklessly in a golf cart around the fountain in the VIP area. Someone films him. He throws trash bags and causes general havoc. Don’t know who he is, don’t care enough to find out.

The Polyphonic Spree -- CLICK ON FOR BIGGER IMAGE

The Polyphonic Spree crew sets up the stage for the 25+ members. Melody Nelson unexplainably shouts out to one of the crewmembers asking for his Polyphonic Spree mesh hat. Clearly the sun is getting to her. Harps, horns, oddly arranged microphones cover the stage. The Spree come out, all clad in the requisite white robe with contrasting hemline rainbow color. We came to hear them do “Solider Girl” and they do it so we’re satisfied. People are dancing around like neo-hippies and it’s sunny. Tim DeLaughter announces that there are robes in the back if anyone wants to come join them on stage. We spot a man weaving through the crowd. As he passes we hear him say “going to get a robe.” Most likely he was going to the bathroom or to go check out another band, but it was a good line.


We head over to the Mojave Tent to catch The Von Bondies, and some reason by the time we get there it’s already begun. We rush in as Jason Von Bondie is howling about some girl that did him wrong, which isn’t a very helpful description — almost a redundant one at that. We’re basically saying we came in while Jason was singing a Von Bondies song.

Two songs later we find ourselves on the side of the stage where we spot the first sign of being caught in the Bermuda Triangle of music: Behind us, wearing a red halter top and shorts, Juliette Lewis is dancing to the music. A song or two later, Jack White is sitting against the back of the tent (still wearing the suit — the man doesn’t sweat, that’s for sure). We realize Augie and Sammy Mooney Suzuki have been standing next to us as we see the rest of the band filter in. And Audrey from Polyphonic Spree is there as well.


A few songs later, Juliette Lewis positions herself so she’s standing NEXT to Jack White. Whirlwind Heat are in the back of the crowd, to the left, and then a blonde mowhawked Kelly Osbourne slides in with her roaming posse and stops next to the Mooney.

Before the end of the Von Bondies set, Juliette Lewis finally gets a picture with Jack, Kelly Osbourne leaves as soon as she came, and we realize Carrie Von Bondie is the skinniest person on the face of the earth. (She looks great with her new short, choppy hair.)

Falling upon a time slot of no bands to see, we catch some chow mein from the food court. After food’s done we head to Coachella Stage to catch a bit of Sonic Youth. We don’t dare try the photo pit — it’s obvious from a distance that it’s elbow-to-elbow in there. Alyse spots us and we end up munching on Valerie’s funnel cake.

Heads to Mojave Tent for The Libertines’ rescheduled 5:40 set. They successfully complete their set, getting into various stages of undress as the songs go on. By the end, they invite audience members to come dance on stage with them. A few brave souls make it up and shake away. We momentarily think about joining the fray, but decide to maintain the little dignity we have. Libertines surprisingly more attractive then in pictures, but musically the live show falls a bit flat. Not that we’re really fans of their music in the first place…But whereas The Vines substitute shaky music pedigree with Craig’s crazy show spectacle, The Libbies just don’t have the same flair to make up for the mediocrity of their music. Maybe we’ll change our mind later, or maybe we won’t.

We decide against heading to Gobi Tent for the T.B.A. (rumors had been circulating it was going to be Radiohead, other speculation said The Vines. It ended up being neither — it was a DJ set by Perry Farrell.) Instead we went to Outdoor Theatre for Primal Scream.

Melody Nelson tells us about Hard Glitter’s belief that Bobby Gillespie is Alison Kills. We sorta see it.

Before the end of Primal Scream, we head over to one of our two MAIN EVENTS for Coachella — THE WHITE STRIPES on the Coachella Stage. The pit is already filled by the time we get there. By the time the Stripes go on, bodies are everywhere. The sides of the stage are brimming over with VIPs and musicians, and the crowd gathering in front of the stage is massive.


They begin with “Black Math,” but soon after the start, Jack starts yelling out to his tech. There’s some problem with the equipment and they can hardly hear each other on stage. He starts again with “When I Hear My Name” and soon stop, this time really shouting and emphatically motioning to tech that equipment is not working properly. Jack wears a ripped/sewn-up red shirt (with black stitchwork) with the red/black pants. Meg wears white shirt and red pants. High winds whip both their hair around their faces.

As reported by Dean on the White Stripes message board (with some modifications):

    The White Stripes -- CLICK ON FOR BIGGER IMAGE

  • Black Math (partial – equipment failure)
  • When I Hear My Name (partial – equipment failure)
  • The Hardest Button To Button
  • I Think I Smell A Rat -> Take a Whiff on Me -> I Think I Smell A Rat
  • Jolene
  • Hotel Yorba
  • Dead Leaves & The Dirty Ground
  • Death Letter -> Motherless Child
  • Seven Nation Army
  • I Want To Be The Boy To Warm Your Mother’s Heart
  • We’re Going To Be Friends
  • Small Faces
  • In The Cold, Cold Night
  • You’re Pretty Good Lookin’ – last half acapella (in half time)
  • Hello Operator
  • Ball and a Biscuit
  • Screwdriver
  • Baba O’Riley (Cover of The Who)

Jack changes lyrics in “Ball and a Biscuit” to “Ask your red-headed girlfriends and see if they know”. Raises eyebrow.

Eats hamburger. Mmmm food. Overhears journos waxing poetic about White Stripe set (something about nature reacting to Jack White, causing the winds to change as they went on stage and some other hippy-dippy stuff)/ talking about Detroit gossip, which they get completely wrong. Resists urge to hit them.


Next up on Coachella Stage, THE STOOGES!!!!! The third song is “1969,” and we verge on loosing our marbles. Within feet of Iggy Pop as he sings the words, “It’s 1969 okay/ All across the USA/ It’s another year/ For me and you” we decide this is one of the best moments of our lives. They go on to play classics like “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “T.V. Eye,” “Funhouse,” and “Dirt.” Iggy pulls his usual tricks of humping amps, writhing, and jumping into the audience. The man’s still got it! We fall on the grass and start convulsing. Toward the end, Iggy introduces the band (including “On bass, The New Guy — Mike Watt”) then introduces himself (“And I’m FUCKING IGGY!”). We thunderously applaud and “woo.”

By this point, nothing else matters, so we head over to Outdoor Theatre just as Blue Man Group are winding down. Looks like fun. We get up there and the stage looks a mess as they clear up for Interpol, who is the last band to play the stage.


Interpol has a false start due to technical problems. They play and stuff. Paul wears a British Sea Power patch on his sweater. We head over to Mojave Tent to catch a bit of Fischerspooner because we’ve never seen them. We get to the tent in time to take one picture of ladies dressed up in feathers. Casey Spooner is the grand master in this production of weird smoke and bright lights. They’re doing interpretive dancing and there’s flashing lights. The tent PULSATES AND SURGES with electro-energy, which scares the BEJESUS out of us, and we run out before something happens to us.

We sit on the bleachers facing Outdoor Theatre stage and are pleased that we didn’t miss “Obstacle 1” (the only Interpol song we whole-heartedly like) due to our Fischerspooner incident. We merrily sing along with Paul through our chattering teeth as he sings, “Her stories are boring and stuff/ She’s always calling my bluff,” one of the least eloquent lyrics ever sung in alternarock.

We spot the rest of our Coachella Crew and head off into the night as we hear the Red Hot Chili Peppers sing “Californication” on Coachella Stage.
We thank God it’s over and we’re still alive.


APRIL 28, 2003

We wake up and take a swim in the pool in a last-ditch effort to get some color. Yesterday’s all-day outing fails to produce a tan due to the usage of 30SPF sun block. Everyone jokes that there’s a secret third day of Coachella that we should attend.

On the way back to Los Angeles, we stop by the Dinosaurs — a ritual all the Californians assure us is a “must-do.” Taking their word for it we take pictures with the dinosaurs.
We pass the rows of eerie windmills that generate power for the desert people. We roll down the window and cause the rest of the car to lose their hearing due to the deafening sound of 80 MPH winds whipping through the vehicle. Oops.

Stop at “The Outlets.” No Dave Grohl but the boys gain toys. The boys decide to climb on top of things, as does Sarah. Take pictures.

Say goodbye to everyone. Fall asleep in car. Say goodbye to Remi before leaving from LAX. Fall asleep again. Arrive back in LA, don’t remember what we ate, fall asleep.
APRIL 29, 2003

Bums around Santa Monica pier.

Drives around L.A. Sees HOLLYWOOD sign.

Goes to Amoeba Records. Is a loser and only purchases the Original Broadway Cast Recording of “Crazy For You” for $5.99. Has a conversation with cashier about what our “I <3 JACK” pin means. “Jack who?” she asks. “Jack White,” we respond. “Ah. Who’s Jack White?” “Jack White of the White Stripes.” “Oh is that his name?” “Yeah it is.” “So tell me, are they brother and sister or were they married?” Groans.

Eats at some steak place, yet orders pasta with grilled chicken. Says “O-pa!” when someone at another table breaks a plate, then has guy sitting across from us repeat the phrase in an attempt to get our attention. Burries head in hand.

APRIL 30, 2003

Mid-afternoon leaves from L.A. for San Diego.

Eats at a Carl’s Jr. for first time in life. Gets regular burger and fries.

Gets car tan.
Arrives in San Diego. Locates Soma venue which is located IN A MINI-MALL near the sports arena. Horrified to see not one, not two, not three, but many many many people dressed up in combinations of red and white. A line full of people in red and white. Checks tickets, confirms status of show as being all-ages. Finds corner, hides.

Later witnesses three teenage girls go absolutely ga-ga over Jack White, jumping up and down, squealing, telling them they prayed that they would see him. “Praying works,” was Jack’s reply. They take a picture with him, and are so excited having just met Mister White, one of them nearly gets herself run over by a car.

Showtime, enters venue, which looks like a pit of hell. A room for 2,300 people to die in a black-box with red lights and a handicap ramp in the back.

Whirlwind Heat open to a less than enthusiastic audience. David Swanson opens the set by telling them, “You might get this… or you might not.” Most don’t get it, are a bit baffled and confused. When Swanson tells the audience about WH’s recently released LP, his comment of “It was produced by this guy named.. Jack,” is met with the deafening sound of confusion.

White Stripes well-received although (to our happiness) the set list leans heavily on material from the first three White Stripes albums and cover songs. Writes down the set list on our hand with contraband pen:

  • Black Math
  • Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground
  • Hardest Button to Button
  • Union Forever
  • Jolene
  • You’re Pretty Good Looking
  • Lord Send Me an Angel
  • Let’s Shake Hands
  • Clarabella (anyone know who originally sang this song?)
  • Cold, Cold Night
  • Look Me Over Closely
  • Apple Blossom
  • Death Letter
  • Small Faces (Public Nuisance cover)
  • 4-String Serenade (Arthur Lee cover)
  • Hotel Yorba
  • I Wanna Be the Boy to Warm Your Mother’s Heart
  • Seven Nation Army
  • We’re Going to Be Friends
  • Isis (Bob Dylan cover)
  • Sugar Never Tasted So Good
  • Screwdriver
  • ————-
  • This Protector

Driving back to L.A., we stop by Denny’s (another first). Orders The Sampler.

Pulled over by California highway patrol.


MAY 01, 2003

Leaves from LAX to JFK.

Surrenders scissors to airport security. Catches plane 45 minutes before it’s departure.
Lands in NYC. Has plane tugged in. Training tugger causes delay in embarking plane.


Stranger than Fiction

We can’t even figure out if this is real… but weirder things have happened: Keanu Reeves is in a new band with former Real World: Seattle cast member Rebecca. The name of the band is “Becky.” Apparently playing the Viper Room in LA tonight. Link from Mark.

Squeeze… squeeze… if you’d just move a little to the right we can get everything in the frame.”

Ladies, get your botox appointments now. Prince William may want to spend a couple of years in New York.

On the strength of the booming sales of Elephant, The White Stripes figure they can afford to lose a few fans by employing them to battle SARS.

Winona Ryder tells Liz Smith she’s single and NOT with Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes:

SPEAKING OF entertainment – Winona Ryder said she got a kick out of reading last week’s papers which detailed her love life. One New York tabloid linked her to young Bright Eyes rocker Conor Oberst; another had her linked to Al Pacino after both she and Al appeared at a screening of John Malkovich’s film, “The Dancer Upstairs.”

Winona says actually she is very happy to be single and unattached these days. After a brief stay in NYC, she rushed to L.A. to meet a director about a film project. “I am quite serious about finding the right role and getting back to work after passing on numerous offers,” says the young star.

Last Night: The Blurval Schools

Damon Albarn is STILL one hot mother f-er.

Back-flips, crazy “Gollum” moves, Messiah poses… the man was ON DRUGS. No really. ON THE DRUGS. Not a form of expression. ON THE DRUGS. DRUGS. D-R-U-G-S. DAMON ALBARN WAS ON THE DRUGS. ON THE DRUGS. Yes, really. ON THE DRUGS. DRUGS.

More later…

Check out these pics of The Dirtbombs @ The Echo Lounge in Atlanta by Frank Mullen.

Chris Martin does a one-off at “One Big No.” Coincidentally, we call the whole Martin-Paltrow thing by the same name.

“1969” is our favorite Stooges song ever. If the Reunion Stooges play it at Coachella, we might go into a frenzy. “1969” by The Vines, doesn’t produce the same effect on us, but we bet it produces that effect on Craig Vines.

The Flaming Lips not only dig plushies, they dig Jack White (we’re not sure if those two things go in the same category). On their new seven-song single, they have the track “Thank You Jack White (for the Fiber-Optic Jesus That You Gave Me).”

Jamie Oliver vs. Me

I swear, I know who the White Stripes are!

What would happen if we asked Jamie Oliver about music? Maybe something like this:

JAMIE OLIVER: Hiya. How are you doing, dah-lin’?
THE MODERN AGE: Fine. Hey- what are you listening to?
JO: Em… Coldplay.
TMA: Oh I love Coldplay!
JO: ::nods::
TMA: Do you like The Strokes?
JO: Yup. Listen to them. They’re great.
TMA: Yeah. They’re awesome. What about The White Stripes?
JO: ::hesitates:: …The…? ::shakes head, not understanding::

TMA: The White Stripes?

JO: I don’t think I know them…
TMA: Oh really?

JO: OH WAIT! Yes, I DO know them! I have their album ::mild satisfaction::.
TMA: Really?
JO: Yeah.
TMA: Which album?
JO: ….emm…. uh…. ::thinks really hard:: The one with the- … face ::draws a “face” in the air::
TMA: ::thinks:: That’s not a White Stripes album!
JO: No really, I have it!
TMA: ::skeptical:: Are you sure it’s not some other band???
JO: No, it’s them.
TMA: ::still skeptical:: Um… maybe it’s White Blood Cells???
JO: Yeah, that must be it.
TMA: Ok- sure. Whatever.

Later, TMA realizes that Sir Oliver might have been talking about the “Fell in Love with a Girl” single released on XL in the UK. Ok, so maybe he owns a White Stripes release, BUT IT’S STILL NOT AN ALBUM! TMA decides to still take 100 points away from him… and 50 more because he brought up how he had the album when he really didn’t know what he was talking about.


And on that note… this chick thinks Jamie Oliver is so her bitch. That’s kinda frightening. You can take your aggression out by punching Jamie in the face.

The White Stripes @ Union Square Park, 10/1/02


Is it just me, or does Jack White have red streaks in his hair now?

The weather was to die for today. It was like summer. It was beautiful. You were all beautiful. I love you. In no order at all: “Astro,” “The Big Three Killed My Baby,” “Jolene,” “Lovesick,” “Hotel Yorba,” “Screwdriver,” “You’re Pretty Good Looking,” “Apple Blossom,” “Death Letter,” “Rated X,” “Lord Send Me an Angel,” “Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground,” “Sugar Never Tasted So Good,” “Farmer John” (did that go into “Louie Louie” in like the last 2 lines? or was it sun stroke?).

And for your computer wallpaper purposes: Mista Jack White.

The White Stripes

The White Stripes

The White Stripes

The White Stripes

The White Stripes





Guitar Solos at a Rock Concert? Noooo! It Can’t Be True

Um, Abby just made me read The Strokes/White Stripes review I linked from the New York Times and.. um… is it just us, or has this person never been to a concert before?

Coming Home on Crutches and Filling Radio City

“Come on, just cheer, make us feel good,” Julian Casablancas said on Thursday night, and if the request was unnecessary, the attitude of bleary petulance was nevertheless charming. “I’ve never been in here,” he said, glancing around at Radio City Music Hall. “It’s nice.”

The Strokes, the New York band led by Mr. Casablancas, made their debut last fall with a superb half-hour disc called “Is This It” (RCA). The group has been touring the world ever since, playing concerts that don’t last much longer than the album. Thursday’s sold-out performance was another victorious homecoming and more evidence that the Strokes are one of the country’s best rock ‘n’ roll bands.

Mr. Casablancas recently injured his knee, so he hobbled onstage with crutches, tossed them aside and sat down at a microphone. Maybe he’s onto something: although his band likes to play simple, anxious riffs, Mr. Casablancas often croons in a languorous voice that evokes a drunk (and slightly belligerent) lounge singer; being seated only heightened the effect.

The group has a knack for squeezing several tunes into one song. The two guitarists often play jagged, interlocking parts while the bassist adds a more propulsive countermelody, and Mr. Casablancas often sings along with one instrument during the verse and another during the chorus.

There were a few guitar solos, but the band is more interested in creating the perfect break, when almost everything stops and one or two instruments keep going. In “Barely Legal,” there was a moment just before the chorus when the band stopped abruptly, and the guitars played one chord for four bars, accompanied by blinding white lights. The anthemic chorus that followed was almost anticlimactic.

The Strokes have always understood the power of the offbeat, and one of the new songs suggested an intriguing new direction for the group. The chorus sounded familiar enough � Mr. Casablancas sang, “I never needed anybody” � but the accompaniment was a surprise: a reggae guitar line.

The Strokes’ current single is “Someday,” a nearly perfect song about a lover who’s not quite devoted enough to feel nostalgic. “Alone we stand, together we fall apart,” Mr. Casablancas sang, reaching for one of the highest notes he hit all night. But by the next line, he had returned to his usual range, and the old ambivalence was back, too: “Yeah, I think I’ll be all right.”

The opening act was the White Stripes, a Detroit-based duo that has earned almost as much acclaim as the Strokes. The singer and guitarist Jack White kept referring to the drummer as “my older sister Meg,” even though nobody believes they’re really siblings. (They are widely reported to be a divorced couple.)

The performance was so messy it almost seemed like a rehearsal, with Mr. White creating squalls of guitar noise that loosely corresponded to Ms. White’s simple drum patterns. He delivered most of the lyrics in a Led Zeppelin shriek, but during quieter moments the group sounded more mysterious and more urgent. He sang “We’re Going to Be Friends” from the group’s current album, “White Blood Cells” (Third Man/V2), in a voice so gentle and affectionate that one suspected he was hiding a monstrous secret.

This Week, Summed Up

The musical highlights of the last 2 days were The White Stripes doing “Lafayette Blues” at Irving and “Isis” at Radio City. Seeing Jack White do the guitar solo in “NYCC” was… odd. Um.. yeah.

The best show of the week (so far) has been… COLDPLAY. Hands down, fo’ sure.

The Pattern in London.

I can’t believe Nikki is still in this thing.

From Popbitch: “Newark is the only town in the USA which is
an anagram of Wanker.”