I watched the White Stripes in concert at the El Rey in 2002. It was game 6 or 7 of the Lakers-Kings series. Mikey, Eric, and I waited outside the venue before doors, listening to passers-by comment on the game.
Brendan Benson and The Well-Fed Boys opened for them, as did Whirlwind Heat, though I wish I’d forgotten that fact. “Fell In Love With A Girl” was getting regular airplay, and the music video was pre-meme viral. Whether the El Rey was at capacity was not question. Mikey, less than a week off an appendectomy, opted to break from the section in the pit where Eric and I had a clear line of sight to Jack White’s pale, veiny arms. Mikey spent the set at the side of the stage, and by his account, a short distance from Heather Graham. Jack spent the set incoherent but radiant, the encore with a burning cigarette tucked into the bridge of his guitar.
I don’t remember the set list, not that I could discern it half the time. I remember he played “Jolene.” I wouldn’t feel this expression of woozy energy again until I discovered scotch. It was perhaps the fourth concert I’d watched as a young music fan. It remains, hundreds later, among the best live musical performances I have witnessed. Every rock show I’ve attended – and perhaps every shot of brown liquor I’ve taken – since has been held up against the light of that night.
I sit down at rock shows, take a digital camera. I sip my scotch now, now I can afford sippable stuff. I take my bourbon with ice. It doesn’t burn so much now. I prefer it that way, most of the time.