The Raconteurs, Express Live, Columbus, OH (September 13, 2019)
Since I first heard "Steady As She Goes", it has been my dream to go see The Raconteurs live, but it wasn't until tonight at Express Live in Columbus, Ohio that I could truly put into words why The Raconteurs have such an effect on listeners.
My husband and I were briskly walking through busy Arena District, hurrying along to get to Express Live. There were so many people out and about, and it was a muggy, hot September day. I figured there was no way they all too were rushing to the same location, not in a city as happening as Columbus, but to my surprise, we all converged on what on the outside looked like an abandoned old warehouse.
A huge line had snaked its way along the sidewalk, filled with excited chatter and loud, booming exclamations...all waiting for what? See, us Chandler's are infamously late because of me. So, while the doors opened at 6:30, we were walking in at 7:45. So...why the line?
As we got closer, metal detectors are standing guard like silent statues while happy, elf-like assistants take your belongings, reassure you they'll be returned (in seriously like 5 seconds) and wish you a great time. So, we gathered our belongings, thinking that was the hold up to be held up by yet another checkpoint: Jack White's infamous cell phone blocker.
I had read about these online, but no one could provide any details, so here is some notes: even with the crazy amount of people, the line moved quickly. Your phone simply goes into a soft cloth bag that is held together by a mechanism much like the security tags on clothes at a department store. You can't open the bag once your phone is in there, but they're happy to open it for you if you leave.
Phones on lockdown but remaining on our persons, we continue our trek into a completely different world. As a child, I used to watch Harry Potter wandered, wide-eyed in shock and wonder through Diagon Alley and think what they must be like. Well, now I know the music lover equivalent. String lights of Edison bulbs dangled like floating fireflies guiding our way to the path to musical happiness while on either side vendors for music, band swag, beer, and pizza barked and bartered for customer's time and money. This way and that we wandered until we wound our way up a path that led to a grassy lawn. People were everywhere. Happy smiles, laughter, and people of all ages had connected over this band...but again, words left me. Why?
While waiting impatiently for the moment I had been dreaming of for years, I recalled it was Friday the 13th, an orange full moon began to crown on the horizon while lightening threatened from the opposite direction. The crowd didn't mind a bit about the spooky weather, especially when Olivia Jean took the stage.
Looking like a 1960s pin-up girl, she took the stage with absolute confidence. Her and her band loaded the stage and surrounding area with a Punk meets Surfer Rock sound. Couples away to and fro on their blankets sprawled out on the lawn while again the moon and lightning makes us feel transported to another world.
Something else catches my mind...people are actually talking to each other, looking at each other, dancing, and watching the musicians. The only light produced (besides from the stage) are lighters, and something feel just right, natural.
When The Raconteurs take the stage, they totally play up the supernatural atmosphere, with red lights, fog everywhere on stage, and suspicious music drifting out to the crowd. When they appear out of the fog, the whole crowd loses it. How to describe it accurately? Natural, soulful, and raw.
Natural - no cell phones interrupting. People actually are connecting with the music, and in turn, connecting with the humans around them.
Soulful - you can tell not only do the musicians put their all into this, but so do all the stage hands, electricians, and so on. This music lives.
Raw - Today's music is lacking creativity. Remember when there used to be an appreciation for the guitar solo?
Remember when people used to lose their minds over a singer really moving them to tears? We used to appreciate musicians for all their sacrifices. They put themselves out there because music allows no hiding. If you are doing it right, you are out there, naked and exposed, for the whole world to see. The Raconteurs do it right. They work hard to connect to their audience. They get them involved and love when they get feedback. It is basic human connection. So...bottom line? How is it? A spiritual experience. A step back into time. It's like going to church or going home.