I am known for being a live music fanatic. I have been to more shows than I can count and nothing makes me feel more alive than feeling bass pulsing in my stomach while front row at a great concert. I have seen legendary acts like Aerosmith, AC/DC, Eric Clapton, Cher, Styx, Kiss, Lynard Skynard, Meatloaf and ZZ Top. I have seen new bands like Fun., Imagine Dragons, and Neon Trees. From 30 Seconds to Mars to Zebrahead I have rocked out front row. You name it, I have probably seen them. I thought I had a fairly accurate grasp on what a concert should be...
Jack White raised the bar on my standards of a true music experience. I saw him perform for the first time at the Fargo Theatre. It was the last secret show, on his 5 stop acoustic mini-tour, at the end of the Lazzaretto tour. The geographical center of North America, AKA my home state North Dakota, was the last state in the US he had yet to play in. It seemed perfectly fitting and his set was a deviation from the norm in all the right ways.
White rose to stardom with The White Stripes and was instrumental in reviving the garage rock scene. This renaissance soul is now known as an innovator in the music industry with his label Third Man Record. White looks forward as well as back when it comes to music, he embraces new technologies while reviving the old. This comprehensive view gives his sound and style a richness other artists can only aspire to.
The concert was an entire weekend experience for me. Having a hunch White would play Fargo over the weekend I packed up my bags and left the Twin Cities at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday to make it to Fargo just before an 8:00 a.m. concert announcement. There were about 60 people already lined up hoping to have first dibs on tickets to the show. When 8:00 a.m. came and past without a concert announcement, I was left hoping that Sunday would be the day. The next morning I arrived at the Fargo Theatre around 7:40 and got my spot in line that was roughly 300 people from the front.
When the announcement came everyone was cheering and by 9:00 a.m. the line had grown to near theatre capacity.
A local radio station provided donuts and other breakfast pastries and White's production team kept us up-to-date on our spot in line and any other information. It was one of the most organized and well planned out events I have ever been to. The logistics of an event like this was matched by the pre-planning and effort made by the devoted fans!
Fans from all over the nation had done their homework to figure out the last state Jack White would play in, what venue would best suit the acoustic show, and how they would have to be there at the crack of dawn just in case. Fans came from Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Canada, Western North Dakota, Wyoming, and even Washington DC, and New York planning to be in the line before the announcement was made. Many people have commented on how lucky we were to see the show. But in all reality most people made a BIG effort to be there. We made our own luck that weekend.
The time in the line passed quickly as everyone was in good spirits and making new friends. Around me everyone had arrived before the announcement and our camaraderie was rooted in our extra effort we made to be early. When we got our wristbands I was bummed that all the floor seats were gone by the time they got to me. BUT I WAS IN!!! I was determined to have the best seat on that balcony so I pulled up my chair and sat in line the next 7 hours till the doors opened. When they did I grabbed my front row balcony seat and took in the set up of the stage and the filming equipment.
The stage displayed items that looked as if they were found laying around backstage. I'm pretty sure they were stashed in the wings when I had choir recitals on that very stage as a kid. I especially loved the North Dakota flag right in the center of it all. The music playing as we entered the theatre was a cassette tape playing southern twang amplified by the ribbon mics. A light-hearted moment during our wait for the start of the show was when a member of White's crew had to come out and flip the tape!
When the lights went down and the show started the energy of the crowd exploded in the way the Fargo Theatre has never heard. We were out of our seats excited and with one hand gesture from Jack we all sat down. People all around me were crying as an outlet to their excitement. I was leaning over the railing with my head in my hands just like a little kid. I was completely mesmerized by the music, the mood, and my surroundings.
The crowd was completely obedient by turning off their phones and experiencing the music. Not singing along with every word, but absorbing every word. There were beautiful moments when you could hear a pin drop mid-song just as if a record was playing.
The song selection wasn't his greatest hits. They were songs that could be taken to another level during an acoustic performance from another era in time. The art deco architecture of the Fargo Theatre was built for this performance, not just because of the acoustic quality, but the visual screen play unrolling before us. The stage was lit in all blue hues that made the audience seemed black and white. White even commented how he felt he was in a black and white movie. I envisioned myself in a blue-hued period film directed by Tim Burton. It was enchanting and whimsical and the soundtrack told a story of by-gone era when live music was the reason to go to a theatre.
These live photos were taken by David James Swanson. The photos can be found on jackwhiteiii.com and are used with verbal permission given at the show that all professional photos could be downloaded and shared by fans.
I have never been to a show that so completely transported me into a story. This show was not just for Jack White fans, but for those who live for live music. Even the clothing of the performers played a role with Jack sporting a pompadour and dressed in his Sunday finest. Whether this idea of a holistically themed music experience is retro, or avant-gard, or both, it was executed flawlessly. The world that was conjured, bewitched me body and soul.
It was truly an experience of a lifetime. As I drove that 3 and a half hours home, all I could think about was the concert poster I wanted to create for this landmark show. Creating concert posters is a passion of mine and this performance surely ignited that passion.
*Here is my fan art poster for the event. I tried to make the poster I wanted to come home with. I took references in the design from Third Man Records, Hatch Show Print in Nashville, the North Dakota State flag, and the deco architecture of the Fargo Theatre. If you look closely at many of the lines and the background texture you will see the use of the Fargo Theatre marquee.
Creating this poster and writing this blog post documenting the show is my way of paying it forward. Thank you Jack White for stopping in our fly-over state, for doing your research and mentioning Lawrence Welk (who is from North Dakota), and for this experience I will always carry with me. Thank you for reigniting that childhood wonder that drives my passion to create.
I feel like I am 12 years old again after going to my first concert. I saw Aerosmith in Fargo and it changed my world. Steven Tyler has been an inspiration of mine ever since. Jack White is the next generation of great musicians and his musical vision will continue to be an inspiration for me and generations to come.
*I do not have any rights to Jack White's name or logos. All digital creative was created by me and is not for sale or profit in any way. I hope it will be a source of inspiration to other fans.