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Posted by Tim on Jun 8, 2005
Happy Accidents, Part 2

We were wiped out after our second day at Iguazú, and went back to our beautiful cabaña to do some serious relaxing. We'd bought a hand-carved chess set (Incas vs. Spaniards) at a fair in Buenos Aires, and spent a lovely hour or two out by the pool playing chess.

It was getting to be early evening at this point, so we decided to go for a little walk, and find some food to bring back to our cabaña for a quiet night in. We headed towards the river, so that we could also look out at Brazil and Paraguay, at the point known as Tres Fronteres. Each country has erected an obelisk painted in the colors of its flag, and we wanted to get pictures of the three of them, and of the three flags that stand alongside one another overlooking the river.

So, just that, then some take-out and a quiet night in, right?

We were about half-way there when we started to hear it: music, quiet and distant, floating to us from somewhere up ahead. As we walked, it got nearer, louder, and more familiar. We were mystified, trying to figure out what it could be.

I could almost place it, it was just out of reach, then suddenly...

"That sounds," I said to her, "like the goddamn White Stripes."


Background

Given that some of our loved ones may be unfamiliar with the White Stripes, a bit of background is perhaps in order.

The White Stripes is a rock band comprised of Jack White (vocals, guitar) and his "sister" Meg (drums). Their music is what's called "minimalist rock", which is another way of saying it is searingly raw. Originally Detroit's indie baby, they soon found massive mainstream success, and are one of the most popular bands in the US today.

When we'd been in Buenos Aires, there had been White Stripes flyers and posters all over the place. They were playing some giant venue there somewhere, a few days after we were due to leave. At some point, they became a kind of little inside joke for us. Whenever we couldn't figure out what we wanted to do, I'd suggest we go see the White Stripes.

I'd only ever meant it as a joke. We left BA before they played, and neither of us had really though of it since.

Until this moment.


Exotic

Having done some research since, I can now explain what the hell the White Stripes were doing in tiny little Puerto Iguazú. The reason they were in such an unlikely place was exactly what we guessed it was that evening: a whim.

Jack and Meg White, it seems, wanted to do a show in an "exotic" place. To make them happy, the producers of the Buenos Aires concert showed them photos of several places in Argentina that could qualify, and they chose Iguazú Falls. They decided to play at some little bar there, which set up a tent in its backyard for the occasion.

There was no publicity for this show. It was only by the most extraordinary chance that we happened upon it.


Tickets

We made our decision then and there. This was not an opportunity to be missed. We could see through the fence around the area where the roadies were setting up the stage and testing out the instruments, and it was the smallest concert setting we'd ever seen. And let me tell you, I've been to see some obscure damn bands. I went to see a Swedish hardcore band once, in the basement of a church in Philadelphia, and they were playing to a bigger crowd than could fit in this place.

After asking how much tickets were, we walked home to grab a little extra cash, and then back to the site (about a ten-minute walk from where we were staying). There were a few people here now, watching the pre-concert check through the fence, and among them we ran into a couple named Steve and Lisa that we knew from the St. Nicholas (our beloved hostel back in Buenos Aires). She was sitting atop his shoulders while we talked about how random this all was, and it was at about that point that Jack and Meg came out and started warming up themselves.

Up at the ticket counter, we discovered that after putting extra money into my wallet at our cabaña, I had then left said wallet there. Grr. After a quick run back home and back to the counter, I had our tickets. We then relaxed in our room for the next forty-five minutes or so, enjoying a few beers and getting ready for the show.


The Show

It was amazing. What can I say?

In a pleasant surprise, it wasn't just backpackers at the show, but mostly locals. The crowd had an energy and intensity surpassing anything I was used to, especially for such a tiny venue. Then Jack and Meg came out, and everything went insane.

We had no idea whether there'd be anything like a mosh pit or not, not having been to a whole lot of South American concerts. There was. We were having too much fun to withdraw to the perimeter, though, and spent the whole show a few feet from the stage.

(Note to Jessica's parents: Don't worry, I was taking good care of her. I was standing behind her the whole time, with my arms around her, so even when things got crazy in there, she was completely safe. Moreover, as you well know, the girl is tough as nails. She was having a ball, and agressively moving us forward in the crowd every chance she got. By the end of the show, she was one of maybe three girls or so left in the pit.)

The performance was amazing. Who the hell needs more than two people in a band, when two people can make so damn much noise on their own? I was blown away by how good they sounded. Only three songs into the show, they played Hotel Yorba, one of my favorites and a song that is very special to the two of us. They also threw in four covers, including a fantastic version of Dolly Parton's Jolene. They were lit from behind and below: I would be occasionally become transfixed by the shapes of their shadows on the tent ceiling above us. The light also caught the steam that started pouring off of Jack as the show went on, a startling reminder that they were performing a concert in a rainforest.

When they "finished" (these days, everyone knows an encore is coming), the whole crowd started humming the march from Seven Nation Army, and it was indeed what they played when they came back on.

And then it was over. We were exhausted, spent, bruised and sore, and we were smiling from ear to ear.

"Cheesesteaks and ketchup", we said to one another. "This is something I will never, never forget.

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The Orcas of Peninsula Valdes

Turquoise
June 8, 2005 at 10:30pm
Not a band I'm familiar with, well I've heard of them but I haven't heard them. But that's cool you got to see them perform at such an original venue. :)

Jack White married his girlfriend in a canoe on the Amazon river in Brazil last week or so. It's been in the celebrity gossip news here. Must have been on this same tour?

Shana
June 8, 2005 at 10:38pm
OMG. That's amazing… you guys! Hurray for the White Stripes, and fabulous happy accidents. Incredible. :D and fun!
Sister Soldier (The Post Hog)
June 8, 2005 at 11:06pm
*singing* well it's 1234 catch the elevator… (all they got inside is vacancy) and 5678 grab your umbrella and grab a hold of me because I'm your favorite fella (all they got inside is vacancy).

OK, so I probably have that all wrong, but hopefully you can see that I'm absolutely in awe of your most "happy accidents." I know you hate it when I say this but you two are indeed more blessed than you'll ever know…

Take care of each other, keep having fun, and always live for the moment! *Peace to all!*

heather
June 9, 2005 at 6:59am
No freakin way! Quite the happy accident! What a treat!
daddy
June 11, 2005 at 9:52pm
i'm just at a lost to see you lucking out like this. you both must have wished upon a star and had it granted.keep having fun and be safe love from all
koreen
June 13, 2005 at 8:44pm
ok, Jessica just made me cry, and Tim just made me insanely jealous:) I think Jack got married down there around that time…so maybe their whim was a cover for the wedding? Or maybe they heard some hedgehogs were in town;)
Philsie
June 14, 2005 at 7:59am
I wish I was there to see Timmy Run like the WIND…lol Jess remember Timmy running in Media that was funny
Noah
June 15, 2005 at 8:25pm
That's a pretty amazingly serendipitous event! I think you guys will have material for a couple of very interesting books by the time you return to the land of our birth.
Greg
June 18, 2005 at 5:49pm
Oh.

My.

God.

I am sooooooooooooo jealous. You have NO idea how jealous. My blood drips green with envy.

Wow.

Amie a.k.a Koreen's sister
June 20, 2005 at 1:44pm
That is so awesome! What an amazing story..you guys will have a book to write for sure, part how-to guide, part romance novel, part adventure…and now you have to add a concert review chapter.
Osvaldo
March 19, 2015 at 4:56am
I was browsing for articles for this concert in particular, I was there in front row as you can see me on the only video there is for this in youtube.

The reason I was looking for this is because Jack White is in Paraguay for a gig tonight, 300km away from the falls for the first time in 10 years. The only thing is that he will play for 30.000 people tonight.


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