WEST HOLLYWOOD, California — If you think the White Stripes are a band that likes to sit still, then you don’t know Jack.
Following one of the best-received performances at Manchester, Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival on Sunday (see “Bonnaroo Recap: White Stripes, Police, Lily Allen Bring Heat To Already Scorching Fest” ) and a raucous New York record release show on Tuesday, the Stripes brought their Icky Thump-ness to the West Coast on Wednesday night with a special in-store performance at the famed former Tower Records on the Sunset Strip. While the store has been vacant since Tower went out of business last year, the Stripes temporarily transformed it into “Icky Thump Records,” fully decked out in White Stripes signage, CDs and merch.
“It’s become abandoned, sadly, so we’re resurrecting it today and this week, selling some real records here again,” frontman Jack White said. He told MTV News that the idea came about when he and bandmate Meg White were trying to figure out a way to make tangible music more readily available in an age of digital downloads. “Holding a record in your hands, especially a vinyl, if you can, that means so much more than this fast-forward, disposable attitude towards music,” White said.
“Cigarette girls” selling White Stripes candy canes and buttons outside greeted fans, all of whom had an Icky Thump album in their possession. The 200-plus people who attended had secured their spots after purchasing the new album on midnight Tuesday at Icky Thump Records, and a handful of KROQ radio contest winners were along for the fun.
The lucky fan at the front of the line was Courtney Knight. “I got really sunburned waiting 17 hours on Monday to come to get tickets to this, so I’m really jazzed about seeing them — it’s my first time,” said the fan, whose sunburn blended perfectly into the sea of red, white and black outfits worn by people waiting in line.
Another fan, John Reynolds, was fully decked out in a black suit, bright red tie and black pinstripe hat. His choice of wear was both fanatical and practical. “I’m colorblind, so it’s always hard to find things to wear. But vibrant red is one thing I can see, and putting that with black and white was perfect,” he said.
Inside Icky Thump Records, the band eagerly waited to play fans the new material, which drew raves at Bonnaroo and in New York days earlier. “We’re seeing a response to songs that people don’t really know,” White said. “It’s the first time they’re hearing them, and they’re responding, so that’s great. We’re going out there and testing and see what songs work live and which ones we can change up.”
At around 8:30 p.m., with fans inside, Jack finally strolled onstage — well, a Jack, that is. “I’m the other Jack,” said Jack Black, who gave a surprise introduction. As the crowd went nuts, he barked, “Are you all ready for a rip-snorting humdinger?”
The frenzied crowd got even crazier when the Stripes finally hit the stage and tore through the Icky Thump title track. You wouldn’t know it was a brand-new tune judging by the amount of fans singing along, especially during the middle part: “La la, la la la la la la la la la laaa laaa laaa.”
Fans across North America are getting their own chance to sing along for the coming months as the Stripes trek extensively through the U.S. and Canada. (It’s their first time in Canada, and they’re hitting every province.) White said the band hopes to book dates in Mexico too.
The Icky Thump tour is a series of firsts for the twosome. “We’re playing the states we haven’t played in before in America — there’s 16 left — and it’s our 10th anniversary this year, so it’s sort of a present to us as well,” White said. “We love playing in places we haven’t played in before.”
So if you’ve never seen the White Stripes play near you, start practicing your “La la, la la la la la la la la la laaa laaa laaa’s.”
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