Jack White’s ‘ Kneeling At The Anthem D.C.’ At The Ace Hotel, Wednesday, September 18th 2018
A few days ago, it was announced that Jack White would release a concert film and a companion CD exclusively through Amazon Music, and I had the chance to attend the premiere of the movie last night at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles.
The movie was directed by Emmett Malloy, who previously worked on The White Stripes’ 2009 documentary, ‘Under the Great White Northern Lights’ and you can tell that White fully trusted Malloy, as the film gives you a front-row seat at a very recent concert when the band performed at The Anthem in Washington, DC, last May 30th, 2018. It is first a movie concert and this is what you will get for a full hour, with several cameras on stage with Jack White and his musicians, mostly playing songs on his last album, ‘Boarding House Reach’, as well as old classics: A Jack White concert would not be one without a ‘Seven Nation Army’ rendition. The actual concert was obviously much longer (you can check the setlist below) but they had to drop songs in the middle to make it as a one-hour movie.
Even though it was titled ‘Kneeling at The Anthem D.C.’ by Ian MacKaye, who met Jack White in Europe, the team didn’t have a real political intention when they decided to pick Washington DC for filming a concert of the tour. It was just convenient because White was playing there for 2 nights, and because the venue was great. But this turned out to be the perfect choice because of the punk history of the place, since Bad Brains and Fugazi names are dropped as examples of musical profound inspirations, during the conversations filmed between the songs.
These black and white backstage conversations effectively come at the right moments to interrupt what would otherwise just be a long concert footage of Jack White doing what he does the best, playing his raucous songs amped to the max, in front of an impressive row of pedals and always looking pissed off at the entire planet. It would not be bad, especially if you are a die-hard fan, but the conversations give a nice balance between intimacy and spectacle. They actually may be too brief to my taste, as I can’t say I have learned much about Jack White.
In the end, the movie is a friendly portrait of the Detroit musician, who appears forever passionate on stage, but also plain nice when he treats students of D.C.’s Woodrow Wilson High School (the school MacKaye attended) with a surprise lunchtime concert in the middle of the schoolyard. White didn’t seem to have any problem with students filming the hell out of the performance with their iPhones, but the topic of cell phones comes back later because his regular concerts are completely phone-free. Apparently Jack White expect the same respect than a priest, ‘People turn off their phones at church’, he explains to justify his high demand while assuring that they only have had positive feedback from fans. Sure, but isn’t this a bit artificial when you have to confiscate people’s phones?
A highlight of the movie happens during his new song ‘Connected by Love’ followed by ‘Seven Nation Army’, that you can actually hear twice in the movie. While many of the young kids were just vaguely familiar with Jack White, playing the famous tune actually makes the students go overboard when they recognize the famous riffs during the High School concert, as they get an ‘oh this is the guy that sings THAT one’ on their face.
The movie will please fans, what is not to like when you have full access? I enjoyed it but I am personally always a bit frustrated when I am watching film concerts as nothing replace the live experience and its rewarding discomfort.
Before the movie, we watched Jack White’s video for his song ‘Corporation’ from his last album ‘Boarding House Reach’. Directed by Jodeb, the mini-movie is a surrealist shocking thriller with its load of thick mystery and fascinating characters. The video has the rhythm of a Paul Thomas Anderson movie, the violence of a Tarantino flick and the WTF-is-going-on vibe of a David Lynch film. A fascinating piece of work and the black and yellow barricade tape fits so well to Jack White.
The EP features performances of four songs from his last album, as well as ‘Blunderbuss’ and ‘Icky Thump’, and the film and the EP will be available September 21st exclusively through Amazon Music.
Watch a trailer for the film below:
Kneeling at the Anthem D.C. EP Tracklist:
02. Over and Over and Over
04. Ice Station Zebra
05. Connected By Love
06. Icky Thump
Setlist of Jack White at the Anthem on May 30th
Over and Over and Over
Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
I Think I Smell a Rat
I Cut Like a Buffalo (The Dead Weather song)
Take Me With You When You Go