How Jack White taught me to enjoy a tech-free concert
Well, it happened, Jack White and Led Zepplin’s Robert Plant joined forces at Lollapalooza Argentina to perform ‘The Lemon Song” and blow everyone away. Thankfully, some rad videographer managed to capture the entire performance and post it to YouTube.
The video, though amazing, is surprising—considering my recent tech-free experience at a Jack White concert.
Back in January, I spent my evening with Jack White along with thousands of perma-smiling fans at the Bridgestone Arena in his adopted hometown of Nashville, TN. Aside from a ripped ticket and sore back from too much Seven Nation Army thrashing, do I have social media proof of this magic? No. Am I slightly bummed about it? Not really.
The reason for this lack of photos and live tweets is simple: it was Jack’s suggestion. After opening act Loretta Lynn, the Queen Supreme of all ladies scorned and sparkly, exited the stage, the tour’s manager and Third Man Records fixture, Lalo Medina, peeped from behind the curtain. In a tone that came off more enlightening than condescending, he told the crowd to do everyone a favor and put their phones away for the next few hours. Instead of trying to prove you were in attendance, he urged everyone to actually be present in the moment as a request from Mr. White himself. He went on to say that if you couldn’t resist the urge to post about it online, to wait and just borrow actual quality images from Jack White’s website the next day. BRILLIANT!
Never before has an act introduction at an arena raised so many philosophical questions for me. How will this concert exist if there is no digital proof? Here I sat in seat 116, considering my past and present concert behaviors.
Whenever I go to see a show, I’m delusional, believing my rudimentary photography is Rolling Stone caliber. Spoiler alert: it’s not; the results of my constant snapping are usually just indistinguishable back-lit blurs. I feel like this is something the social media savvy struggle with on a regular basis. Sometimes you get so lost in immortalizing an event that you are insta-filtering it into oblivion. If you are too focused on your little rectangle, you are missing the big 360-degree experience around you.
I was recently talking to my friend about it and she said, “I know I always do it and then immediately wonder afterwards why I do.“ It’s as if it is instinctual to monkey-see-monkey-do and take countless shots and minutes of videos, so we can Vine/Tweet/Instagram to our heart’s content. Even though I am embarrassed by my social media addiction, I know there are far more severe cases.
We’ve all been to those shows and witnessed that very behavior at extreme levels, usually a crowded show scattered with folks with big black X’s on their hands. On more than one occasion, a gaggle of these folks have plowed their way in front of me, making better doors than windows. My ire is kicked into high gear once I overhear one of the pack admit they’ve never heard of the act and that friends dragged them to the venue. Instead of carpe’ing the Diem and seeing this as a discovery opportunity, that individual just snapchats and texts away on their phone. REALLY!?!? You nudged your way to the front to just take selfies?!?!? I know this sounds crazy because I am in a polygamous relationship with my electronics, but that behavior is just next level!
Although I am not terrible about it, I am definitely not immune from this kind of poor etiquette. There have been evenings that I have felt like paparazzi because I got so swept up in the coolness of a front row seat that I spent the majority of a set running down my phone battery taking pics. Did I need an MB worth of storage on my iPhone taking pictures of Alabama Shakes? Probably not. I got excessive, and I now regret not just sitting back and enjoying the show a little more, because that’s just not something I’ll see again. I can scroll back through my news feed and look at those pictures, but I can’t relive that moment.
There has to be a happy medium somewhere between going off the grid and total stalkerazzi. Thank goodness Jack White reminded me of the need for it. His Nashville show was probably one of the best I have witnessed in my life, and part of that could be attributed to the fact that I was all in—100% immersed in the music with no distractions.
Next show, I’m going to leave the picture taking to the pros and live in that moment instead just as Jack White instructed. I will likely snap a couple, ( I am human after all. Old habits die hard.) and then throw my phone in my purse. I will thoughtfully choose my moment for a picture, but not have it monopolize my evening. I can also trust that someone else (see video above) will capture the most important moments, even if I don’t. Upside: this will free up my hands for wild dance moves.