Jack White vs. The Black Keys
All right, I just came right out and said it. Many a person has weighed in their opinion on the above match-off, and it's my turn to get on a soapbox about it too. First, the good and then, the ugly.
If you follow Jack White at all, you may know what he was up to on Record Store Day. Being the genius trend setter that he is, he didn't just follow the crowd and release an album to the record stores to sell on RSD. No, he recorded his own brand new record in his own recording studio. Then the lucky attendees got a copy of the record, all in the same day, to take home with them. I was not one of those who got to attend this event but a few of those records have shown up on Ebay and they are getting more expensive by the day. I'd like to have one but I am going to hold out and hope these recordings at least become available to the general public sometime soon.
There is an 11 minute video synopsis of it here:
Thanks to this video, I finally know what it really means to be "in the groove" and my personal favorite line from the "Lazaretto" title track is "When I say nothing, I say everything." That would be good advice for him to take on his stance with people copying his music. More on that in a minute.
In the meantime, you can hear the track from side "A", "Lazaretto", which will be included on his next Jack White III Cd of the same name to be released in June, next week in fact.
Just as interesting, is the "B" side of that record, a cover of Elvis Presley's "Power of My Love" and thank goodness it is available as an audio recording, at least temporarily (it's already been taken down from YouTube, so I'm not sure how long this link will work). This song is firing on all pistons and I can't get enough of the musical complexity it serves up. If you watched the video you got to see a little of it, but I wish it had included the entire song. At least we know it was recorded so I suppose it will surface one day.
Now for the ugly. Unfortunately, Jack decided to throw a little more fuel on the fire he started over The Black Keys allegedly stealing his material. Thoughts were spoken that should have been caught in the brain's filter, the one right before the vocalization happens, but it's happened to many of us, and it recently culminated when he was quoted in the latest Rolling Stones magazine issue, of which he is gracing the cover, as saying "I hear ads where the music's ripping off my sound, to the point I think it's me. Half the time, it's the Black Keys." He has since taken to explaining himself, saying there was more to the story. People are choosing their sides and as much as I love Jack (I own just about everything he's produced but also own everything The Black Keys have ever produced), I am pretty sure that he A) did not invent the guitar or drums and B) did not invent music. Let's hope that he can save face. He has since issued a public apology on Third Man Records' website. You can read it here:
Despite it being called an apology, it has such a bite to it that it reminds me of when I make one of my kids apologize to another one but they're still mad and they still think they are right. Like when they yell it at the tops of their lungs or whisper "sorry" so quietly even I can't hear it and they are facing the other way toward the wall. It sounds like someone made him write that letter but he still believes he is in the right. His ego may have gotten too big for his britches and I'm sorry to even think that cause I basically think he's the King of the music scene for the last decade or two.
If I were his advisor, I would be advocating actions speaking louder than words here, and I personally suggest he start with that Black Keys and White Stripes mix-up I dreamed up in my post from May 2012.
He is a brilliant musician but such grandstanding really is not terribly becoming and perhaps more than a bit tarnishing to his otherwise shiny Rock God image. Music is a lot like photography in this regard...there are a lot of guitar players and a lot of photographers and it's pretty darned tough to prove that somebody stole your ideas or copyrighted your work. If you don't want it to get out there, then you shouldn't publish it. But I think both bands have a good following, many fans are like me and appreciate Jack and The Keys with equal enthusiasm, and I think Jack would be worse off if he wasn't producing his stuff and frankly we would be too.
What if it's all just a big publicity stunt?
As for The Black Keys, they seem to be playing their cards right. The Keys are lying low and any response I've read gives Jack an easy out saying such things like "we've all said stupid stuff." Like, it's all right man, and then the hug with the back slapping, you know the way guys do. So far, they sure seem to be taking the high road.
The Keys will be touring in support of their new album this summer and fall. I pre-ordered their newest release "The Black Keys Turn Blue" (which I think Jack would have titled "The Black Keys Turn Into the White Stripes" but never mind cause we're trying to move on here), for one reason only. So I could get the pre-sale super secret ticket access code. I generally prefer to buy that kind of stuff (records, cds) locally so I can avoid paying shipping costs. But I had another goal here: realizing my dreams of being in the front row and I had every hope that they were going to come true at last. I marked my calendar for the pre-sale date. I set 3 alarms: the oven timer, my Ipad timer, and my phone alarm. They were rigged to go off 10 minutes in advance so I could be in the right place at the right time: logged in to the website and registered, with my fingers eagerly waiting to type in the magic code. When those alarms went off, I was in position and then waiting, waiting, waiting for my turn to get into the virtual waiting room and finally, bam, I'm in and it says "pick your section from the drop down menu." Yes, this was the moment I had been waiting for! Then the bomb dropped. There was only one option. "General. Admission. Floor".
I had been duped. #1) I am older than The Black Keys. #2) I am short. Don't they realize us old people no longer choose to fight through those crowds on the floor. Been there, done that. I have a reputation amongst my friends for being able to weave my way to the front with the best of them. But that was then. Now, I want a seat and some elevation so I can see. Plus, I probably have a camera in one hand and a beer in the other and those two things are not conducive to crowd-weaving. I am not up for sneaking through the crowd or arriving the night before so I can sleep on the concrete and wait for the doors to open and run like heck to end up in the 21st row on the floor because they saved the first 20 rows for radio giveaways and people more important than me (my cat thinks I'm important, but he isn't handing out concert tickets). So hesitantly and with trepidation, I bought the tickets anyway because I didn't know what my options would be after that.
Naturally, the next logical thing was to wait for general ticket sales. Several days later, I was back at the computer, waiting for the gates to open. First try out of the chute, I land Row B tickets in the section right next to the stage. Directly across from me, on the opposite side of the stage from where my tickets are, the first two sections are being reserved and sold as premium seats with ticket prices starting at $275. So it seemed my payday came after all, but the old-fashioned way and with a little bittersweet sauce on the top of it because now I have 4 tickets to see The Black Keys.
As for Jack touring, well apparently he isn't too pleased with his perception that people having stopped clapping because they are too busy texting at his shows. I'll admit to being someone who might be a delayed clapper because I have to put down something I am holding such as a beer or maybe a camera. It's hard to say where this will end up but I sure hope he gives us another try at the concert thing. Maybe we could get some signs going that say "Everybody please put down your crap and clap". Until next time...enjoy the beginning of summer and thanks for visiting!
Originally published May 17, 2012
I have the post show smitten blues. It happens to me after I see a great concert. I drag around for a couple of days like a love-sick puppy. This time the band was The Black Keys and they lit up the Target Center Tuesday night to a crowd of 11,000.
The Black Keys consist of drummer Patrick Carney and guitarist/vocalist extraordinaire Dan Auerbach. They originated out of Akron, Ohio and have been acquainted since childhood. When they played Minneapolis two years ago at First Avenue it was to a small crowd of a couple hundred people. Their fan base has grown tremendously since the release of Brothers in 2010 meaning they got to move across the street and play at the big house, namely the Target Center.
They were even better live than I had imagined. Beforehand, I was thinking it would be pretty good and I might as well go check them out. Two concert t-shirts and one Black Keys coffee mug later, I think my personal band ranking just saw The Keys move up a couple notches. That's what a concert is supposed to do, right? I am amazed at how hard Patrick Carney works those drums. He doesn’t just play the drums. He beats those drums so ferociously that I’d be willing to bet he has to replace or repair them on a regular basis.
The band’s lyrics surely suggest much heartbreak and romantic disappointment in their past. If you are feeling like me, you might get mad at the girls who broke their hearts but then find that you’re actually glad they did it cause now they are writing these great songs about it. Not since Paul Rodgers of Bad Company have I heard a guy croon out such sweet, heartfelt words. I feel compelled to console these guys. You want them to lay their heads on your shoulder and tell them it’s going to be ok. I guess that would be called effective song writing.
As for his guitar playing, I hear remnants and riffs of Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young and Jack White. In other words, this guy CAN play guitar. His on stage presence reminds me of Jack White, almost like a mad scientist in the lab ready to cook up a big experiment of something. Going here and going there, adding this, turning up that, louder, louder, bubbling, fizzing, exploding. It’s fascinating to watch and hear.
Well, I wish I could show you some awesome images from the show, but not having a press pass means that I can’t get my gear into most of these big venue arenas and a lot of times, the smaller ones too. I have resorted to shooting video out of my little camera because I can and it’s more fun to look at than the little JPEGs that come out of it. Now if I could just get a tripod in there. I’m telling you, I could nail some killer shots if they let me down front or let me bring in my stuff.
Here are a few of my videos.
The Black Keys, “Lonely Boy”:
The Black Keys, “I Got Mine”:
The Black Keys, “Everlasting Light”:
The Black Keys, “She’s Long Gone”:
One last thing…I’m thinking if the White Stripes could possibly for us, just this one time, reunite and double bill a show with The Black Keys it would be the best show ever. Can you imagine if they all came out for an encore, together? Or to really mix things up they could put Jack and Pat together and Meg and Dan. You know, just to shake it up a bit. Then they might have to change their names to The Black Stripes and The White Keys though.
Then to promote the show, like it would need that, Rob Jones could make up some killer art posters featuring a piano keyboard or zebras or something and it would be really awesome. Rob does some really great work and has worked for some prestigious bands and he’s a darned good writer too. Check out his website at:
I’m crossing my fingers. Can you hear me Jack? Meg? Dan? Patrick? Will Horton hear the Who?
I am a photographer who lives in Minnesota. I blog about Minnesota, photography, music, food and miscellaneous topics.