Saturday, September 27, 2014

Jack White - Fillmore Miami September 21, 2014

From Jack's website. I'm in the bottom right, somewhere.
Like, I assume, most people, I first heard the White Stripes sometime in 2001 when the video for "Fell in Love With a Girl" was huge. I was intrigued and started digging to find that Jack White was one of those artists who had apparently been digging through the soundtrack that plays inside my very soul for inspiration. I fell in love with a band and very quickly sought out their full catalog to that point, which was just 3 albums and haven't stopped being a Jack White fan for the past 13 or so years. I saw the Stripes at Red Rocks in 2007 and felt like it was the equivalent of having seen Hendrix back in the day. The energy and spontaneity of that show is something I'll probably never see again. At one point, I had to pee, badly, and actually considered peeing my pants or in a water bottle, but I didn't have the top for the bottle. A couple years later, I saw The Raconteurs on their first tour, and was blown away when presented with further evidence that White had been digging around in my head to decide to do a cover of "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)." So, I was pretty excited about seeing Jack White play last Sunday night, in support of his second solo album. It was interesting to see so many others just as excited, in Miami of all places. I hate to be the grumpy hipster, but I was into him way before any of you. (Meh. Mustache twirl.)

My forehead was super excited!
This is was also the first time I've ever gone to a concert alone. I'm not sure why I never did it before, but I think I'm doing it more often. There have been many times I've missed out on bands I wanted to see because nobody else I know liked them. Well, fuck that. And an added bonus was that it was easy to get into the pit and close to the stage without the extra baggage. So, yeah, this will happen again.

The crowd had a pretty wide age range, which wasn't too surprising, given Jack's musical range, but it's funny how the older dudes, at least in my area of the pit, seemed to be more energetic about the show than anyone else. At one point, before anyone had even played, some lady right in front of the stage, fainted and was carried out by Fire Rescue, alone. If she came with anyone, they made a very clear choice that day, because they did not budge as her limp body was taken away. I hope they at least said "See ya!" I laughed with my new best friend, the giant forty-something year old next to me who was the only other person jamming to A Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario" when it played on the PA. We both scoffed at one youngling who had to Shazam it. Another new companion was one of the many 4 foot tall twenty year old girls who, several times, lit a joint she just had hanging from her mouth like she was the covergirl for some trashy pulp novel from the 50s, with a flower in her hair. 

Olivia Jean's album drops in October.
Opening for Jack was Olivia Jean, who I had never heard of. I liked her 60s rock girl vibe with the gothic country flair. I'm not sure the crowd did. She wasn't even on long but the youngsters had made up their minds not to like her the minute they didn't recognize her. I'm certain of it. They didn't even give her a chance. At least they weren't rude, but I was losing faith in this crowd. If they truly knew Jack (like I did), they'd at least be open to this sort of thing, since it's what he's all about. But that's Miami for you, I guess. Anyway, once she was done, they closed the curtains, which is not common. At one point, a guy in a Guyabera and hat came out to tell everyone how awesome it is to be at a live show and not watch it through a cellphone screen. In other words, no pictures or videos, please. I can respect that, and agree with it, but I think it's a blanket type statement that assumes there can be no middle ground. There's a lot to be said for capturing the moment, from your unique perspective, while still being present in it. But, judging from the couple of "this is bullshit" type reactions around me, I think I might be in the minority with the balance thing. Plus, a few people still pulled out their phones at some points. I may have been one of them.

Also from Jack's site. I want this job.
So, while we're all just jamming to the hip hop being played over the PA, there suddenly comes 2 loud sharp snare hits, the PA cuts off, the band strikes the first chord and the curtain bursts open, all at the same time. With no preamble, we were assaulted with lights and "High Ball Stepper." The attitude was cocky and explosive and infectious and the crowd spontaneously combusted. One song after another, the energy never let up. This was similar to when I saw the Stripes. Of course, the Stripes never used a set list so that was just a spontaneous jam session, that seamlessly went from song to song on Jack's whims. This was clearly not that, nor could it be, since there are many more players involved and the arrangements are much more complex. So, there was structure. But it still felt loose with Jack jumping around between several mics and switching guitars at will. It takes serious talent to keep up with that, and the band had it, for sure.

This guy! (Also from the site.)
One thing that may have hurt the show was the decision to do what was basically 3 separate sets, each divided by a closed curtain and about 5 to 10 minutes. I get it and I was cool with it, but I'm not sure it was for everybody. Some people may have lost momentum as a result. For those of us in the pit, the energy was fine, though. At one point, my new pal, the old giant, was jumping so hard he nearly killed a bunch of us, including me and Reefer Madness. I'm still not sure what all these tiny girls were getting out of staring at sweaty backs the whole show, but they seemed excited. Maybe it was the smell of sweat, farts and marijuana. To each his own, I guess.

One of the highlights of the show was "We're Going to Be Friends," which I recently found new meaning in when my oldest daughter started Kindergarten. The crowd was all about the song and we all sang along to the "I can tell that we are going to be friends" chorus at Jack's direction. At one point, he came out to the front of the stage and my section pushed forward. One of the Hobbit girls behind me was apparently on her toes and leaned on me for support, apologizing just as we sang that chorus one more time. It was a brief moment of community among the entire crowd. Or maybe I was just feeling like a softy because I had been thinking about my daughter. Either way, it was a moment.

Hoping Jack didn't see me pull out my phone. Don't want to be the guy that sets him off.
That time Daru and I made a found footage film.
By the time the third, scorching set ended with "Seven Nation Army" everybody's face had melted off. My knees were now killing me and it was time to head home. As I walked to my car, behind the venue, I noticed a line of people waiting hopefully to meet the band. I decided to give it about 5 minutes and see what happened. Soon, Daru Jones, the drummer, appeared and started silently, graciously shaking everyone's hands while dealing with a couple of annoying hipster nerds who for some reason decided this was a good time to ask Jack White's drummer complicated questions about what Jack White was thinking of when he rearranged some of those White Stripes songs and whether or not he was going for a Bob Dylan vibe because, these two pretentious jackasses had just seen Bob Dylan and they noticed that his music was very similar to what Jack White was doing and and and and. Daru just nodded that he didn't know and was nice enough to take a couple of selfies with some of us that didn't interrogate him about shit he'd have no way of answering anyway. At that point, some guy from the management team came up, told us all to gather round and let us know that no other band members would be coming out this way. They were on their way to a family party and sent their best. It was nice of them to let us know, so nobody wasted their night. We were all very appreciative.

So that was that. My next show should be interesting. Stay tuned.

1 comment: