During this years Toronto International Film Festival I got a chance to check out the interesting tour doc The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights. The film documents the bands' 2007 Canadian Tour that saw them perform in every province and territory while also doing a series of surprise gigs in unlikely locations that included on board a small fishing vessel, in a bus shelter and inside a bowling alley. The film showed a fun, mischievous side of Jack White and also gave some access to the incredibly strange relationship between White and his sister/ex-wife Meg. I got the uncomfortable feeling that Meg White, the bands mopey drummer, faux-sister and ex-wife of Jack was hopelessly in love with him and pining for him throughout. She seems to exist in depressive state just bordering on crying most of the time, but on stage, she summons strength never seen in her off-stage moments. It was very enlightening to get a glimpse at their strange creative dynamic because the band has taken such strides to be private and mysterious by creating and presenting a false history and fictional family tree. But ultimately, the move leaves you with more questions then answers, because the more you see of their real dynamic the stranger and more puzzling it becomes. But it's certainly fascinating to watch and large part of what I liked about the movie.
Of course, the other part was the music. I expected to the movie to be a documentary about this unique tour, and of course it is, but it's much more of a concert movie than I had anticipated. The performance stuff is really well shot, and very much in the aesthetic of the band itself. It's rough and raw and dirty around the edges, just like the music. The kinetic, spontaneous raw energy of their live performance is captured with the immediacy of actually watching The White Stripes perform live. So in light of that, I was pleased to read at Rolling Stone.com that the band has decided to release a limited edition box set of the tour. The set sounds really cool and a lot of care has been put into making a really unique and extensive package. It's got their first ever live album, a ton of DVDs of what I assume will be many other performances that weren't used in the final film; some limited edition vinyl and 7"s and a book that isn't some shitty pamphlet, but rather a 208-page document of the tour. Rolling Stone feels the price is very steep, and it should be pointed out that the $179 figure s only until New Year's Eve. In 2010, the box set will retail for $229. But I think with the state of the music industry as it is today, exhaustive packages like this or the way to go. There's no question that this box set gives fans a lot of incentive to purchase the set rather then download the music on the live disc. In the end, at that price tag, the set is clearly only for serious fans, but really, most box sets are and considerable efforts have been made to make this set worth shelling out for.