On August 4th Jack White had the best day of his life, and I was fortunate enough to share a few hours of that day with him as one of the lucky 1000 fans who scored a ticket to his Lollapalooza aftershow at the Metro in Chicago. This isn’t my first time to a Jack White Lazer-Rodeo (as someone’s dad once coined his Lazaretto album title), but it was hands down…or hands UP RAISING THE MOTHERFUCKING ROOF the best Jack White show I’ve ever attended.
Fans began lining up outside of “The Met” at 2 p.m. that day to have the best standing room inside the tiny venue that Jack once played pre-fame as a drummer with his band Goober and the Peas, according to the official Jack White live Instagram. A few blocks from Wrigley Field, The Metro hosts a plethora of gigs, everything from still touring one-hit-wonders, underground acts, and fried-chicken-and-porn nights on Monday (Stefan from SNL would dig it). I hazily recall seeing various acts there in my drug addled youth, but my old ass who was only a few beers deep this Saturday night will forever have this Jack White show imprinted to memory.
The opening DJ spun a strange mix of old school hip hop, television theme songs, and what i can only describe as copyright free Youtube creator music. He wasn’t terrible, but there was one track he dropped the needle on that drove me and my concertmate Kelly near insanity for it’s consistent looping for 15 minutes. But maybe we were just already cranky from the effect of a 95 degree day that left the Met so humid that the floors were wet. Maybe we just couldn’t wait for fucking JDubs, man.
Oh, also quick note on the cellphone lockup situation — it’s not even a big deal. In fact, if more artists would utilize this no-phone use policy, the concert going experience would improve drastically for everyone in attendance (though maybe not so much for Youtube voyeurs, which I am one of y’all too, so I understand the downer that is not being able to see clips from your faves. Jack’s camp has made strides to throw out livestreams here and there, seems like a great model for other artists to give a go).
The first thing that’s noticeable during the beginning of the show is Carla Azar’s badass drumming. The last time I had seen Jack live he had Daru Jones on drums, who technically speaking is a hip-hop/new soul/jazz drummer, so the beat is there with Daru but with a lot of jazz elements. Carla, in contrast, beats the fuck out of that set reminiscent of early 90’s punk, and at times her banging even comes through so metal af that you see hands in the hair throwing horns throughout the crowd. Dom is still plucking away on bass, and there’s a few new guys on keys and sound board that like to throw in a cheeky Sunday church service hallelujah riff now and then. There’s a lot going on, but this is the most humorous and experimental that we have ever seen Jack’s backing band, and it gives the entire show a positive energy and the feeling that you’re watching a group of friends on stage having a blast rather than a crew of accomplished musicians.
On another side note–the Jack White cult following of yester-yore of hipsters and industry people were not this crowd on Saturday night–as the last time I saw Jack I was surrounded by editors from this mag-or-that-outlet, the Metro show was fellow fans who knew every word to every song, friendly af and we were all taking good care of each other. Even the drunks were in full on party mode, and the crowd was the best I’d ever experienced at a show of any of Jack’s projects.
So the show itself…JDUBS IS A BAD MOTHERFUCKER. He played some of the new songs from Boarding House Reach throughout, which I ended up purchasing a physical copy of on wax from the merch stand (and to all my girls and gays…Jack’s merch crew are some handsome, British accented daddy fantasies…just putting that out there). The only semi-flopper was “Why Walk a Dog”, the crowd was just kinda standing for that one and letting Jack get through it respectfully. Kelly and I had discussed the song previous to the show in the hotel room while dolling up, hoping he wouldn’t go there…I actually dig the funeral procession of the instrumentation, but the lyrics are a little sketchy in the female issues department that I don’t feel a man has a right to vocalize. I mean, good for trying Jack, thanks for the progressive support, but it’s not a bop live. We also did not get “Ice Station Zebra” at The Metro show, which I was highly looking forward to. Jack made it up in a very moving, tear producing rendition of “Connected by Love”.
We DID however get “BROKEN BOY SOLDIER”, the Rac’s track, and also one of my top 3 songs out of Jack’s entire discography (a rarity, if ever played live). We also got a verse of “Cannon”, also on my top 3. “Trash Tongue Talker” didn’t make it to the setlist to round it out (surprisingly, as that track screams Chicago blues to a hilt), but we still got a few Blunderbuss tracks like Sixteen Saltines, the title track, and a soulful Love Interruption in which I FUCKING SWEAR Jack changed one lyric in which to state he wanted love to “Walk right up and FUCK him”…am I the ONLY one who heard that??? I WAS LIVING. SHIT. I STILL AM. BOY YESSSS I HOPE YOU GET YOUR NEEDS MET YOU SEXY ASS FUCKIN– at 42, lets be honest, boy still got it. #gothicc
The highlight of the night was the one small discussion Jack had with the crowd, sharing with us how the owners of Wrigley Field had allowed him to change the scoreboard at the game that day, as well as keep one of the “3”s. You can see video of this grown ass child living his best life and being the purest human being on earth for 10 seconds here. He brought the 3 with him on stage, and stated it was the best day of his life. Post-show, slightly buzzed and high on concert funzies, Kelly and I laughed so fucking hard at the idea of Jack taking that 3 sign and tucking it into bed with him that night, asking Lalo to run to Target to get it a stroller to push around his new child. I can’t tell you what Jack did with that 3 while offstage, but I do know he brought the fucking thing with him to his headlining set at Lollapalooza the next day. The show-and-tell of the small things that brighten this man’s day…they could make a precious moments figurine in tribute.
There was a short break in the set, the band returned for several songs, then took a bow. Despite our best Seven Nation Army chanting throughout the crowd, the lights came on and the tech crew seemed to be disabling the stage. Kelly and I headed down to the merch stand, and just as we were finishing up our purchases we heard JDUBS MOTHERFUCKING MOUTH ON THE MOTHERFUCKING STAGE. We ran back upstairs and enjoyed another encore, everyone in the crowd jumping around like little popcorns. Have you ever been to a show in which the memory of it gives you butterflies and a well-up of happy tears? That was this show. If you have yet to see this living legend live, do yourself the favor and do so, especially for this current tour in which Jack White is his most authentic, beaming, playful, and MUSICALLY EPIC I’ve ever witnessed in 20 years of being a fan.