This is Why Jack White Is the Coolest Performer Today

One of the reason I admire Jack White is because he doesn’t settle for the ordinary.  Ever.  Take what happened in London this past week with a secret show.

Fans were given clues online which led to a website where they were encouraged to register to be “tested for contagious diseases.”
Vescoco and Co
A select number (about 100) later received a phone call inviting them to a medical clinic–a fake one–called Vescovo & Co that went something like this:  “Hello, it’s Tabitha from Vescovo & Co. I believe you would like to make an appointment.” A text message later gave the exact address:  an office block in central London on Arundel Street just off the Strand.

Upon arrival at the appointed time (around 11pm), fans were greeted by a group of “doctors” and “nurses” who made everyone sign a disclaimer which included agreeing to give up all rights and internal organs.  Each person was tagged with what looked like a hospital wristband. After a quick inspection of hands, groups of people were then sent to an elevator where they met “Dr. Fleming.”

She insisted that everyone use antiseptic gel on their hands before fans were then required to change into hospital gowns (with masks!) so they could undergo some physical and psychological tests.  Stethoscopes were produced.  Lights were shone into eyes and pupils examined.  Questions were asked:  “How are you sleeping?”  “Read this on pyelonephritis. It’s a type of urinary tract infection.” It was all rather disorientating and weird.

Everyone was then shuffled into a second room which was filled with wire cages full of laboratory rats.  “Sit down at this desk.  Use the pencil to complete these maze tests.” Once that was done, there was a Rubik’s cube test and a request to write down any memories evoked by a series of song clips that included some Gregorian chants.  A strange amber “medicine” was administered (it turned out to be a decent shot of whiskey).

(By the way, this would be a good time to point out that Lazaretto, the title of Jack’s new album, took its title from a Philadelphia quarantine station that was once used for maritime travelers.)

Lazaretto quarantine station

Suddenly, one “patient” was found to be “infected” and there was immediate panic. People with clipboard appeared shouting “Quarantine!”

Everyone was moved into a dark room to be “decontaminated.”  As soon as the doors closed, dry ice smoke flooded the room.  There was, er, some freaking out.

Then the music started.  Jack and his band (all wearing hospital scrubs) played a selection of his solo stuff plus some White Stripes tracks over the course of about 30 minutes.

The show ended when Jack had a “seizure” after being “infected” and was carried off the stage in a stretcher into an ambulance which then roared off into the night, sirens at full volume.

Back out on the street, each fan received a personalized “prescription” from “Dr. John A. White III” featuring handwritten instructions to “pet a horse” or “Be sure to eat your Ovaltine.”

Now THAT’s a seriously cool concert.

(Via Rolling Stone)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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