My brother Taylor sent me an email today. He said he had recently learned that The White Stripes don’t plan out their set lists. They do a different, off-the-cuff show every night. He asked me about how we used to approach our shows. Here was my response.

(This is copied and pasted from an email between brothers. This is not well-planned blogging)

I think The White Stripes’ style of music and band persona lend themselves well to a devil may care type of approach to doing a show. When you have throngs of screaming fans who’ve been waiting all their lives to see this show you can get away with murder. They could go up their and tell knock knock jokes all night and their fans would eat it up. <— hyperbole

When you’re just some local schmuck band and you go up on stage just winging it, that usually doesn’t work so well. You don’t have the benefit of the crowd knowing all of your songs. They may not know any of them. So I think you’d better go in with a plan. When are we going to play the slow song? Do we come out blazing with the first song? Or do we get their attention with a good first song and then knock them dead with an awesome second song? Are we going to play any covers? How many? Which ones? Where in the set?

I’ve played a lot of shows and I can honestly say that the vast majority of them left me wondering why I was striving so hard to make this my career when I was so often disappointed afterwards.Sometimes we had a big, very responsive crowd but if I didn’t really play that great I was so distracted by the mistakes that it ruined the show for me. Then sometimes we would play an awesome show but there was no one there to hear it so that ruined it for me. Then there’s always the issue of dealing with club owners who so often see the band as their opponent instead of their partner for the evening. Dealing with the club personnel was probably the worst aspect of the whole experience for me.

My approach to every show was to put on a very high-energy, well-played, well-paced show that kicked you in the teeth at the beginning and kicked you in the pants at the end.

We played a handful of shows over the years that made me very happy. Huge crowd. Huge response. Killer playing. Killer energy. I’ll never forget those. I’ll also never forget the shows that left me depressed for one reason or another. Those far outweigh the good…in my mind…not in reality.