The Raconteurs Steal JazzFest

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by Sam Winston

When they came onto the Gentilly Stage in front of a thin crowd on what was otherwise a very packed last Sunday, I really had no idea what to expect. Then they picked up their guitars and absolutely dominated.

The Raconteurs basically put forth a hard cutting though soulful rock and roll that usually doesn't slip past the baby-boomer funk loving talent net of the Jazz Fest. Led by Jack White of the White Stripes with Brendan Benson to his right on vocals and guitar along with the rest of the band behind them, they rocked the set so thoroughly that the leftovers from Galactic and early birds for the Radiators just looked at them and said "huh?"

The other half of the crowd kept yelling and cheering until everyone realized that the Raconteurs were putting on one hell of a show. It was perhaps Jazz Fest's best hopes at bridging to the next generation or its worst nightmare depending on how you look at it. The band was musical enough to impress young begrudging Galactic jammies and old Radiators faithful, something some national acts usually don't do when set in the context of New Orleans' musicians, and yet they didn't play to the musical tradition of New Orleans in the least. Jack White was simply the baddest dude on the planet as he let it rip with a soul and power that evoked Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath at their peak while maintaining his own cocky hipness. I basically got goose bumps on their last tune, "blue vein" before their encore.

Naturally it hardly made a blip on the festival coverage afterwards. Yet there was no question that this was the surprise show of the fest. It certainly wasn't that lame, slow and conceptual Acura Stage set by Robert Plant and Alison Kraus (both of whom I like by the way). To put it another way, I didn't even stay for the Nevilles and their glorious return. The Raconteurs had already stolen the show.


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