The White Stripes: “Hello Operator”
I went to the Sasquatch Music Festival in George, Washington (probably my favorite town name ever) this past Saturday, and got to see many excellent artists: Blitzen Trapper, Alabama Shakes, Kurt Vile, The Dum Dum Girls, Metric, Tune-Yards (possibly the highlight), St. Vincent (her final song was completely sung while crowd surfing), and Jack White. (I caught a couple of songs by the Roots as well, but it was getting very late and I had to take off.)
While I’ve featured most of those bands here in recent weeks, I have yet to post a White Stripes/Jack White song, and it’s about time, especially since White’s show at Sasquatch was the most high-energy, “rock star” show of the bunch. I have no doubt in my mind after seeing him that he’s an incredible egomaniac, and his crowd banter is of the James Brown, “Almighty speaking to his acolytes” variety. (Example: At one point, White declared in broad, affected, preacher-like style, “All right, now this is the part of the show where I sing a part of the song, and then you sing the next part back to me! I’ll sing, and then YOU sing — follow me? [Uh, yeah, Jack, we’ve done that kind of thing before.] So when I sing [for the Raconteurs hit, “Steady As She Goes”] ‘Steady as she goes,’ you sing, ‘Are you steady now?’ [Sorry, Jack, could you repeat that one more time? I didn’t quite follow.] Ready? Let’s go…”)
But I poke fun at Jack’s ego only because he could bear lightening up a little. In reality, that kind of thing certainly didn’t truly detract from the show, it was just good for a giggle or two. Overall, White rocked the house, loudly and confidently — if there’s one thing he knows how to do, it’s entertain. And that he did, for something over an hour, playing an array of songs from his new solo album, Blunderbuss, to older White Stripes stuff, to a song or two from his side project with Brendan Benson, the Raconteurs. It was an excellent show, and in tribute to that, today’s song is one that he performed during the show: “Hello Operator,” from the White Stripes’ second album, 2000’s De Stijl (a reference, in case you’re curious, to the early twentieth-century “De Stijl” — “the style” — art movement, of which Mondrian was a founder; the album cover is designed in that style). “Hello Operator” is a loud, fun, primitive song, and was brought to even-bigger life on the stage this past weekend in the hands of White’s seven-piece band. I have to admit, though, that I missed Meg banging away on those drums, though.