ACL Live Review: Raconteurs

Only half of Jack White’s supergroup dresses for the occasion

Casting one’s gaze upon the Jumbotron as the Raconteurs lit into “Bored and Razed” late Friday afternoon on the mainstage, the ’nad-smashing power-pop anthem that opens new third LP Help Us Stranger played second fiddle to the “Hi, How Are You?” T-shirt perched on the chest of Jack White beneath his mutton chops and aviator shades.

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Drummer Patrick Keeler sported a Willie Nelson tee. Co-leader/guitarist/vocalist Brendan Benson wore a white button-down emblazoned with at least one silk-screening of the old Eighties Maxell cassette ads with the dude whose hair’s blown back by the music. That sums up up the Nashville supergroup’s hourlong blitz, but perhaps he, alongside bassist Jack Lawrence in a plaid pearl-snap shirt, couldn’t get their Austin wear together before stage time?

Of course the group, which live includes utility multi-instrumentalist Dean Fertita (moonlighting from Queens of the Stone Age), were likely more concerned with promoting Stranger. It is, after all, their first studio LP in 11 years. Seven out of the 11 songs played on the first day of the first weekend of ACL Fest 2019 were culled from the disc, with smatterings from Broken Boy Soldiers and Consolers of the Lonely thrown in for good measure.

Surprisingly, not a peep of debut single – and, arguably, their most recognizable hit – “Steady, As She Goes” aired. Peculiar, that. The assembled throng didn't seem to mind given the full-tilt rock & roll romp through the classic Seventies sections in White and Benson’s record collections.

The set's sole nod to the Sixties, Donovan's “Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness),” resembled fellow Music City peers the North Mississippi Allstars enough to make one curious as to whether Luther and Cody Dickinson are hanging out at Third Man Records. Especially notable is how similar the dual bandleaders’ vocals are despite White’s hysterical edge, and how much the latter owes to Neil Young's guitar work. White also got off an impish joke:

“Donald Trump says the sun doesn’t exist, because there's no proof! See, you’re not hot!”


10-04-2019, 5:30pm, American Express stage

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Raconteurs, ACL Fest 2019, Jack White, White Stripes, Daniel Johnston, Jack Lawrence, Willie Nelson, Brendan Benson, Patrick Keeler, Dean Fertita

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