The Vault is Jack White’s record club (I joined when it first started about ten-years-ago). White’s record label Third Man Records provides rare exclusive vinyl and special bonuses with a quarterly subscription. One of the perks is a lottery system that allows a few members into Jack White’s shows before the general admission audience. The winners usually end up near the front row. I was awarded that golden ticket last week to see White’s current band The Raconteurs.
You can read about when I saw his last solo concert by clicking here.
Talking to my fellow Vault winners outside the venue, it quickly became clear that we knew each other through The Third Men Podcast. It’s a fan made endeavor that documents the multiple projects and artists associated with Mr. White. The hosts interact with their listeners bringing Jack White’s followers together into a friendly music nerd community. You can check out the podcast by clicking here. After security locked away our phones (White wants attendees to pay attention to the music not their devices), my fellow golden ticket winners and I were standing right in front of the stage. The rest of the crowd came in moments later and filled out the brand new Mission Ballroom. After the roadies dressed like 1920’s delivery men set the stage, the thunder of The Raconteurs was about to begin.
The show was exclusively Raconteurs material from the band’s three albums. Those who were hoping for Jack Whites’ previous work from The White Stripes, The Dead Weather, or solo tunes might have been disappointed (or at least until the first mind blowing guitar solo). The band started out with Born and Razed. It’s the opening track from their new album Help Us Stranger. Lead singers Brendan Benson and Jack White traded off versus setting the tone of the evening of pure rock glory.
Benson had a quiet calm demeanor mostly standing in one spot for the majority of the night. The only time he addressed the audience was to express how the mile-high altitude was affecting his voice (an Instagram post later showed him wearing an oxygen mask). His lead vocals on Together, Only Child, and Now That You’re Gone added a sweetness to the music while White provided extraordinary guitar accompaniment.
On the other hand, Jack White bounced around the entire stage while playing his impressive collection of guitars. He also took over keyboards from Dean Fertita during the ballad You Don’t Understand Me while Brendon Benson and bass player Jack Lawerence provided stunning harmonies. White played rapid fire guitar licks and screamed the lyrics of Don’t Bother – “The way you look in the mirror (don’t bother me, bother me)/You’re your biggest admirer (don’t bother me, bother me)/All your clicking and swiping (don’t bother me, bother me)/All your groping and griping (don’t bother me, bother me)/Yeah!” With the hyper energy of a toddler after eating birthday cake, White announced, “Brendan will sing the next song while I play guitar. And if you feel like it, you can sing along.”
The highlight of the show was White’s performance of Blue Veins. He poured all his emotions into the lyrics of the dark love song and turned around and transferred the same intense energy into an incredible guitar solo. It was a reminder why White is one of the last great rock stars.
Pennsylvania indie band The Districts were the opener. They started performing together when they were in high school. Ten years later the band have developed a unique sound of distortion and jaunty guitar hooks. All the band members sported various styles of mustaches. Lead singer Rob Grote donned one that would make John Oates of Hall and Oates proud. Their Instagram post after the show displayed the entire band with oxygen masks claiming that they have acclimated to the altitude.
See you at the next show. I’ll be the one with the golden ticket.