The Dead Weather Paint It Black at Coachella

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The Dead Weather's Jack White / Photo by Andrew Herrold
WRITTEN BY
Liam Gowing

Even in the desert, the Dead Weather hit the stage dressed all in black.

And during their Saturday night headlining set at Coachella, it certainly suited the music.

From the count-in of the first song, a cover of "Forever My Queen" by Virginia doom-metal band Pentagram, it was clear that Jack White and his bandmates -- the Kills vocalist Alison Mosshart, Queens of the Stone Age guitarist and keyboardist Dean Fertita, and the Raconteurs bassist Jack Lawrence -- intended to take their audience on a ride to the dark side.

And so they did -- with White driving from behind the drum kit and Mosshart supplying the lion's share of the lead vocals. Angry, eerie, evil vocals.

"I'd like to grab you by the hair / And drag you to the devil," Mosshart sang on "Hang You from the Heavens" from 2009's Horehound.

You do not want to get on this woman's bad side.

The band fed off each other's energy during the 14-song set -- taking the tunes from a whisper to a scream, and packing each one with a feeling of religious fervor.

It was a particularly revelatory scene for the many longtime White Stripes fans in the crowd, who were palpably excited to see their hero in a new guise. Jack White -- not just a drummer -- but a badass drummer.

Not that he and Mosshart were the only badasses on the stage. Fertita held his own with gnarly guitar leads and fantastic organ work, which split the difference between White's more traditional blues approach and Queens of the Stone Age's post-punk.

Of course, it was still clearly White's band. And the highlight of the show came when he turned over the drums to Lawrence, picked up his trusty Bo Diddley-model Gretsch guitar, and joined Mosshart at the mic for a bittersweet duet on Horehound's closing track, "Will There Be Enough Water?"

You could almost see the sparks fly when he pressed his face close to hers as the two traded vocals.

They took the volume of "Water" down, down, down to such a whisper that the arrogant volume of Tiesto's pounding DJ mix wafting from a nearby stage threatened to drown them out. But the crowd was rewarded mightily as the band slowly worked its way back to an orgasmic crescendo.

"Just because you caught me," White and Mosshart sang to each other, "Does that make it a sin?"

If so, no one was complaining.

SET LIST:
Forever My Queen
60 Feet Tall
Hang You from the Heavens
You Just Can't Win
So Far from Your Weapon
I Cut Like a Buffalo
No Horse
Blue Blood Blues
Jawbreaker
Hustle and Cuss
Die by the Drop
Will There Be Enough Water?
New Pony
Treat Me Like Your Mother

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