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The Raconteurs at First Avenue (Minneapolis, MN)

Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: , , .

I was in, I made it. A show, entirely sold out, and I was inside the building. Initial what if scenarios plagued me on the ride to downtown Minneapolis’ First Avenue left proverbial butterflies in my stomach and the arrival to the venue was met with a siege of queasiness. The Raconteurs were to play, and I was to watch. As much as I was fed rhetoric concerning The Raconteurs being a collective effort while waiting in line I couldn’t help but find myself fascinated with an imaginary interview I was having with Jack. At last, we (my sister was kind enough to accompany me on this venture) were at the door, IDs checked and one last stop, will call. More waiting. More time for thoughts of disappointment to linger and build steam. And all at once in a single sentence, we are granted access to what will surely be known as one of the most breathtaking performances we will ever see.

We were going to see The Raconteurs.

Opener Kelly Stoltz played a fair set, but without sounding overly negative towards him and his band, I couldn’t help but constantly check the clock on the stage (since when are there clocks on the stage?). After all, he was cutting into my time with The Raconteurs, and if he wasn’t on the stage, I’d definitely be seeing twice as much Brandon Benson. Maybe not, but I still glanced at the clock a lot. Then the thought came to me, Stoltz’s set was like eating peas.

Bear with me.

Eating peas is pretty cool if you think about it. Peas are pretty damn good and they make you feel good after you eat them. On their own, peas can be absorbed in a number of different forms, raw or cooked, whatevs…and they still rock; kind of like Kelly Stoltz. But peas completely suck and make you feel like they’re wasting your time when you know full well that there are Godiva chocolates waiting for you, with your name on them. And you really like Godiva chocolates.

After finishing his oh-so-artier-than-thou set, we were left to anticipate, once again, and sweat.

The band is coming! No its not. Why did that guy say that when he knew full we…Now it’s for real and they’re going to play! Why do they keep teasing like that? Immediately, without warning all of our faces are blow off and the crowd becomes one giant swarm of sweaty ageless drones. Jack White puts his hand in the air, we put our hands in the air. Jack White claps, we clap. Jack White coos, we coo. Suddenly it makes sense. Rolling Stone’s 17th greatest guitar player of all time is in front of me (us). And I’m…here (there) with everyone else, and I can’t believe it.

The bass drums glowed in unison with the backdrop, White’s copper glazed guitar blinded as he sawed people’s faces off (taking an amp out as well) and Patrick Keeler’s rock star drum rolls were felt by everyone throughout the club. Along the way the band might even have played a few songs, and as White mentioned, he hoped that we would forgive them for the luxury.

Just in case you’re wondering, the band worked its way through the tracks on Broken Boy Soldiers, including the title track, which was performed as an elongated, morphed organ duet before slamming into an unforgettable break down in the middle of the song. Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” and Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” were just two of the unforgettable covers which accompanied the already startling set.

In between forgetting lyrics that were clear to me mere hours earlier and being entirely star-struck I found peace in knowing that I had just seen one of the most electrifying performances that I will witness. As “Hands” quit playing as the band’s final track of the evening, reverb intact, the group stood at the edge of the stage and Jack White wished the audience adieu, “God Bless,” I turned to my sister and we were both smiling. In fact our faces were locked in such an uncomfortable Cheshire-cat-like grin that it defies logic to even attempt to stretch my face to that extreme again. We were happy, because we had scene – The Raconteurs. And, yes, The Raconteurs are good.