If you want people to want something, tell them they can’t have it.
From the moment I arrived Saturday morning, the buzz among the photographers was that Jack White
wasn’t going to allow photography during his set. Never mind the message and purpose of Farm Aid or
the other musicians on the bill, “The Story” seemed to be Jack White. Certain photogs were issued
blue wristbands at check-in, but not told why. This only served to add fuel to the rumor mill. It all seemed too orchestrated. If it smells like a fish . . .. Turned out the blue banded photographers would be the chosen few (there were 8 of us) allowed to shoot. Funny, I felt more manipulated than special. Call me cynical.
If you want to be noticed, stand apart from the crowd.
As soon as they started setting up his stage, it was clear that appearance plays big with Jack White.
He had his road crew dressed in slacks, button down light blue oxford shirts and white fedoras with light
blue hatbands. They looked like they stepped off the chorus line of the musical “Chicago.” His set was lit
with blue lights and accented with fog machines, not just on stage, but in the audience areas as well. Jack himself looked good too. He was well dressed in blue and had all the right moves. He held his pale blue Telecaster in all the right ways. He struck all the right poses at just all right times and he had all the proper rock & roll grimaces. Lots of blue. Lots of posturing. Don’t get me wrong, he played a high energy set and played it well. It was definitely a fresh change from the traditional “Farm Aid Four” and he truly stood apart from the crowd. In the end though, if you ignore the hype and strip away the theatrical lighting, you’re left with a pretty good guitarist who writes pretty good songs – nothing special, really. All in all I thought it was like watching a “Smurf Bonamassa” show – but the crowd went wild and the press extolled his genius.
So there you have it. The opinion of a cynical old man. All in all Farm Aid 2014 was a great day. Plenty of fantastic acts and musicians that truly care about what’s going on around them. I guess I kind of feel like Jack White “played” Farm Aid, using the event for personal publicity instead of promoting the Farm Aid cause. You may notice that there are no photos of Jack in this blog post. We were advised by Farm Aid’s publicist that Jack White’s people would be on the lookout for unauthorized publication of photos of him at Farm Aid 2014. Even though I was one of the “lucky few” photographers, Grassicana isn’t an authorized outlet and I will respect their wishes. You will, however, be able to see my photos at Blurt Online (the fine folks I was shooting for). Please check them out as well as their Sister enterprise, Schoolkids Records. Other photos from the day can be seen here: Link to Farm Aid 2014 Photos
Get Out and See it Live!