ACL Last Night: Jack White 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.
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.