The Insomniacs – Detroit – The Magic Stick, MI – 2001-06-09

The Insomniacs
Where: Detroit – The Magic Stick, MI.

When: 2001-06-09

I was so impressed by Friday night’s show that I gathered up my best friend, Ian, and my dad and headed back downtown for yet another White Stripes gig the following night. We walked into the Magic Stick just as the Insomniacs started their half-hour set of rock music. I was really impressed by what I heard from this three-piece. They were definitely playing up the 60’s image, all the way from their clothes to the fairly obvious musical comparisons to the Who. Still, the band was tight as hell, and unlike many other concerts I’ve seen at the Magic Stick (see the Paybacks show review), the sound guy actually had a great mix going. My Dad both smiled and gave thumbs up during the Insomniacs set, giving them my official family seal of approval.

Between bands, I was sent out to do a beer run when I ran into my cousin Angie. Now, Angie’s young, but since she’s directly related to Jack and Meg, she got guest-listed into the gig. I was excited to see her, so I ran up and gave her a big hug (because I’m still Mr. Sensitive Hug Guy). Ian had never met my cousin before, and apparently he found her quite attractive. Well, attractive enough to stay back sitting with her while my Dad and I pushed our way up to see The Go. Here’s a simple equation for everyone regarding The Go: The Go + Live show = The MC5.

Seriously, for about two songs I thought Rob Tyner and Fred “Sonic” Smith had come back from the dead to rock the Magic Stick. This band had the sound of the MC5 down pat, and the look was pretty convincing as well (all the way down to the MC5 trademark American flag draped over the amplifiers). I was really surprised because I wasn’t expecting a whole lot – I really hadn’t thought too highly of their Sub Pop debut, “Whatcha’ Doin’.” The live show completely rocked me, though. The fuzzy, dueling lead guitars were anchored down by thumping basslines and simple, fluid drumming for most of the set, sending the calendar back to 1968 all over again. However, The Go also tossed out a boppy number that drew a few girls (namely Marcie Bolen of local rockers The Von Bondies and Slumber Party) up on stage to dance around for a while.

By the end of The Go’s set, Ian had made up for ditching my Dad and I by bringing forth another round of drinks. Before we knew it, the house music cut out, and it was time for my second White Stripes experience of the weekend. The Stripes wowed another capacity crowd with a searing version of Son House’s “Death Letter,” with Meg smiling gleefully as Jack wildly danced about, tossing out slide guitar licks like they were going out of style. “I’m Finding it Harder to Be a Gentleman” found Jack alternating quite capably between guitar and keyboard duties, and “I Think I Smell a Rat” evoked images of 50’s rock on steroids. One great thing about seeing Jack and Meg live is how easily they can blend different musical styles into a set without making things sound forced. The almost country stomp of “Hotel Yorba” blended nicely with a brooding and winding version of “The Union Forever,” while another chugging performance of “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” satisfied the audience’s urges to headbang. As with Friday night, the Stripes ended their encore with “Look Me Over Closely,” bringing to an end a weekend of three consecutive sold-out Detroit club shows.

The only way I can do these shows any justice is to say that I cannot describe the intensity of a White Stripes performance in words. All of the adjectives in the world can’t do justice to the energy that this band possesses. This energy rubs off on the audience in spades, and the end result is a foot-stomping good time.