(photo via Team Coco)ZACH THAT:
The journey starts with four guys sitting around a table drinking beers in Louisville, KY. Joey (all photos were taken by Joey for WLFY see more on twitter @changingmyplea), Chris and Nick from backseatsandbar.com and I gather around an iPhone to take a look at breaking news (see the video) out of the Third Man Records camp. The video shows Jack White (The White Stripes, Raconteurs, Dead Weather) hanging up a poster on the front of Third Man Records, located in Nashville. The poster details an event with Conan O’Brien and say Thursday June 11th, first come first served. The video ended and the four of us looked at each other in silence. We all had the same thought but nobody said anything. Finally one of us stood up and said, ok, let’s leave in thirty minutes. It was all the needed to be said, everything was understood. Thirty minutes later I’m behind the wheel, a Honda civic packed with expectation, hurling deeper into the dark of the night that should really be called morning. It was 1am and Nashville was the destination.
Third Man Records is a building that looks out of place in a “rougher” part of downtown Nashville. The structure has a small room that opens at 12pm most weekdays and sells all sorts of Third Man merchandise. Two large garage doors are painted yellow and red (the yellow door for load in and load out and the red door is where White parks his Mercedes). Basically the building looks like a set piece straight out of Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Blow Up”. Across the street is a large homeless shelter and up the street a train track where loud noises radiated every thirty minutes on schedule. I pulled the car into the Third Man lot where there is only four parking spots and noticed two other cars waiting. The cars had two die hard fans waiting who we would spend the rest of the day with and become friends as crazy experiences like this tend to do. The girl had been there since 8PM the night before, the guy 11PM. When all was over, they both logged in over twenty-four hours to experience the intimate show.
Next to the building was an alley way and a large gate where this sign hung:
I sat on the curb, in a delirious state from the lack of sleep and waited. I was hungry, tired, wanted to take a shower, miserable. This is what the next five hours looked like:
The next day was a blur and reading about doing nothing but sitting is just as exciting then the sitting itself. Friends were made, beer was consumed, music played, and then from above Jack White began throwing water bottles to fans. (NOTE: He is throwing to the back of the line, people who just showed up…you can hear the die hards who had been in the sun for hours angry that he is rewarding the wrong group…none the less it was cool seeing a king throwing hydration to his peasants.)
The organization of Third Man was great but I have one big gripe and will get that out of the way before turning everything into sunshine and rainbows. With about an hour to go before doors the guest list line begins to fill. The regular line runs about 2,000 people deep at this point. The capacity for the Third Man venue is anywhere between 250-400…we’ll say they let in 350 people. They guest listed 94 people! Running this blog I do the guest list thing all the time and sometimes at huge venues each band is allowed four to five spots. The poster above says first come first serve but this was not the case as guest listeners showed up literally at 8pm, fresh, clean, and rested…while I sat there sunburnt, exhausted, and pissed off at these easy riders. I took my anger out on the first two guest listeners who ignored me for the most part. They completely shocked me when they saved us spots in front of the stage and literally allowed us in front of them once in the venue. This made me feel bad about being an jerk to them, but my anger was directed at Third Man because I know at least 350 people deserved to be there over the 94, they put in the time and put up with the heat. Now this didn’t change anything for 256 of us, but 94 people we’re bumped who sat outside for over seven hours. But enough griping, I’m in the venue and front row center. Can’t complain.
I fold my arms on the stage and rest my head on my hands. Closing my eyes I begin to debate what I’m more happy about: the fact that I’m about to see Conan and Jack White play some tunes or the fact that the air condition is going full force. The doors close and a large cheer goes up, we are the 350 people who will be able to tell our children, we were there…it’s an automatic moment not to be forgotten. The lights go down and Jack White jumps on stage to introduce Mr. Conan O’Brien:
THE SET LIST:
We all know Conan is the king of contemporary comedy but I had no idea how incredible of a musician he is. He’s a showman and his backing band was tops. On “Polk Salad Annie”, Conan put his own twist on the Tony Joe White classic (made famous by Elvis) by changing the story to a boy from Brookline, Massachusetts struggling with the perils of growing up as upper middle class and the shame of having lowly parents struggling to make it through life as an attorney and epidemiologist. Conan continued to dazzle with older standards, taking breaks to show off his unmatched wit and sharp banter, once going into a Tears For Fears song to appease a fan who joked he was there just because Conan tweeted that he would be only doing covers from TFF. The room exploded when Conan smiled and said “This ones to pay the rent” and blasted into a mind-blowing instrumental of “Seven Nation Army”. One of the stronger moments came from Conan doing a Thom Yorke impression by doing his version of “Creep” The joke at hand is that Conan said he can only do the impression by acting like an English chimney sweep…and continued the joke by changing the lyrics to fit the bit. In the middle Jack White threw a top hat on Conan’s head took the skit over the top, the run busting from laughter.
The Jack White returned for the last song of the night and words wouldn’t and couldn’t do justice for the experience. Two legends who are the top of what they do, sharing the stage, back to back shredding on the guitar and feeding off an insane crowd. The room was close to spinning off the earth and into vast universe. Hopefully a video will be posted because you need to see this last song.
The show was over...and I caught a Conan pick:
The entire show was recorded on reel to reel and made available for vinyl pre-order for the 350 people who attended the show.
We waited in line for an hour, saw Andy Richter leave, the whole band, and finally Conan…who after all he had done for us, tried to shake everyone’s hand, take photos, and sign these cards:
I placed my order for the vinyl, trudged back to the car and made the three-hour drive home. I arrived back around three in the morning, a twenty four hour trip plus some change, some 36+ hours without sleep, dehydrated, two hues of red all over my neck and arms. So, was it worth it? Yes, without even a spec of doubt. As I went to sleep I dreamt the whole event over again, but when I woke up I wasn’t depressed…it wasn’t a dream, we really experienced it all.
(excuse the typos, this is freehand, "i'm too tired to edit")