ACL Last Night: Jack White at Zilker Park

JW Oct14 1.JPG
Photos by Marco Torres
Jack White
AMD Stage
Austin City Limits Festival, Zilker Park
October 13, 2012

Rewind:

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ACL Last Night: Neil Young & Crazy Horse at Zilker Park

It's kind of complicated, the way I feel about Jack White. The last time I saw him play was probably ten years ago, before the White Stripes even got famous, at a small punk club in Oklahoma. There were maybe 20 people in the crowd, and the decade's garage-rock revival was just barely getting started. People at that show didn't quite know what to think about the band.

Since then White has switched projects and focus almost on a yearly schedule. He's out-famed his onetime partner Meg, dated movie stars, produced albums for country legends and even been in a few films. But I still don't know what to think of Jack White. To be perfectly honest, mostly I think I'm sick of his antics.

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He made headlines a few weeks ago for cutting a show short in New York because he didn't like the reception from the crowd. But at Saturday night's Austin City Limits show he barely even acknowledge a crowd existed, muttering a brief "Hello, Austin" about halfway into the set.

There are other things that rub me the wrong way, like the novelty of an all-girl band. Mainly they're just bids for attention, along the same lines as the "Are they siblings or married?" plotline that followed the White Stripes. The only difference is that White shouldn't have to resort to these gimmicks to get people talking now, because by all accounts his musical skill speaks for itself.

And that's why my feelings about him are complicated. Because on the surface of it, there was nothing musically or technically wrong with his show last night. But for all the skill he's exhibited in bands like Dead Weather and Raconteurs, he's lost that touch of rawness that made music lovers like me fans in the first place.

Someone on Twitter said it best: He sounds like a Jack White cover band. He's gone from raw to the exact opposite, totally contrived.



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13 comments
sirguitarist
sirguitarist

I'll never understand why journalists who have a negative bias about an artist are given the go-ahead to review a concert or a recording. Readers want a valid description of a show, not a rant about why the artist doesn't meet your personal desire to stay the same. Your analogy of Paul McCartney even made it more evident that you want in-a-box predictable non-explorative musicians. Stick to your local classic rock radio station. You'll be safe from harm there.

jbwood
jbwood

You just failed at life. Do not pass GO, and give me $200 for reading this thing.

James
James

What a terrible review....ummm I think they used two much blue onstage and Jack White is like too much Jack and not enough White.  Jack ripped Toronto apart both nights last week, and is constantly changing as an artist, which is a good thing.  I understand if you don't like him, but this is a concert review, talk a little more fact and a little less "I want attention".  An all girl band isn't a gimmick, he has two bands for two interpretations of the songs...your article is a wonderful example of a gimmick.

VictoriaLo
VictoriaLo

You're insane. He killed it at Cain's Ballroom last Friday. Best show I've ever seen.

Creg Lovett
Creg Lovett

Who sucks more: Jack White or ZZ Top?

Stacy
Stacy

You have no idea who the "real" Jack is so quit pretending like you do. 

jverheul
jverheul

You are indeed an idiot. If Jack White were performing just like he did ten years ago, I'd bet that you would call him out as limited, a one-trick pony. And Blunderbuss is one of the best reviewed albums of the year thus far. I dont see your understanding of Jack White as complicated at all: you have none.

jacoerik
jacoerik

Dude you're an idiot, blunderbuss received fantastic reviews and there is a reason he plays to packed crowds all over the world. Think whatever you want about the person you perceive he is (since you obviously know him so well) but don't make up your own facts.

BrittanieShey
BrittanieShey moderator

 @sirguitarist I didn't have a negative bias of the artist. I flatly say I liked the White Stripes. Besides, would you want reviews only written by sycophants?

sirguitarist
sirguitarist

You clearly disapprove of Jack White using numerous outlets to express himself, and trying new arrangements of old songs to keep them fresh for him.

sirguitarist
sirguitarist

@BrittanieShey I have made no such point for you. I disagree that an artist is obligated to play carbon copies of their recordings live. Even the songs from Blunderbuss have evolved in the live setting. As for stage persona I don't need a cheerleader to ask me "Are you feeling alright?!!!" After every third song. His charisma is in his playing, which is what I go to see.

BrittanieShey
BrittanieShey moderator

 @sirguitarist  @BrittanieShey that keep them fresh for him.

 

See, you're making my point. At some point an artist has an obligation to his audience. It can't be all about Jack White. That's why it was so off-putting that he barely attempted to engage the crowd. If it's just about Jack White keeping Jack White entertained, why ask people to pay $40 a pop to watch that (as was the case in New York).

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