The White Stripes

Jul 1, 2003 12:00 PM, By Steve Jennings


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Riding high on the success of their latest album, Elephant, the White Stripes embarked on an ambitious world tour that included two sold-out nights at San Francisco's Warfield Theater. Consisting of only Jack White (vocals, guitar and piano) and Meg White (drums and vocals), the band delivered two energetic and frenzied sets that Jack made up on the spot. Drawing from a modest catalog of albums and EPs, the band had little trouble keeping the crowds entertained.

Monitor engineer Eric Baecht maintains a number of custom mixes at various positions onstage. “Jack likes a really loud and powerful mix. He has three different vocal mics, so he likes to hear everything all over the stage. There's four mixes onstage, plus sidefills. People just see two people onstage and they tend to think it's easier than it actually is. His guitar is pretty bass-heavy, so you don't feel you're missing the bass guitar. It's interesting; lets say if he doesn't feel the song, he'll just start playing keyboards. It's totally up to his whim.”

Drum mics include Neumann KM184s for overheads and hi-hat, Sennheiser 604s on toms and snare, and a ne602 on kick.

FOH engineer Matthew Kettle mixed the San Francisco dates from a Yamaha PM4000 console. For this leg of the tour, the crew relies on a rental P.A. and consoles. “We're not carrying a console or P.A. right now,” Kettle explains. “I hope to have a Midas XL4 or the Heritage 3000 down the line.

“Jack constantly rearranges and restructures songs,” says Kettle. “He does improvised melodies, intersperses covers with their own material and draws from all four of their albums. Jack has three open vocal mics that he runs back and forth to. Because it's so unpredictable, I'm changing the mix all of the time.”

The three vocals mics used by Jack are all Sennheiser Evolution 8651s. Kettle feels that the mics are well- suited to Jack's style of performance because they combine a great deal of gain before feedback with the open sound of a condenser mic. “[Jack] will work out how the mic works so he can get weird off-axis and distance EQ effects,” Kettle explains. “He's very creative with all of his gear, and he'll take the idiosyncrasies of something and take advantage of it. He uses an effected mic that he likes to control onstage. He likes it to have this giant kind of vintage plate sound on it for a cavernous effect.”

Kettle relies on number of outboard processors, including a UREI 1178 compressor on guitar and an Empirical Labs Distressors on vocals. “I compress almost everything going on, because he can go from screaming into his mic to singing really quietly,” says Kettle. All of the shows are also archived with an iZ Technologies RADAR 24.

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