As the KNDS: 96.3 Radio for Everyone Facebook page said, this past weekend was the GameDay for the Fargo-Moorhead music scene.
Twin Peaks took over Saturday night at The New Direction, and with less than 10 hours turnover, rock musician Jack White announced the final location of his surprise acoustic tour to be played at the Fargo Theatre Sunday evening.
The Chicago kids were expectedly loud, fast and uproariously entertaining. Nearly 120 people crammed into the brick basement and gave themselves over to the band’s wicked performance.
Twin Peaks had a way of igniting the atmosphere by building from the energy of the opening acts, but then took over and brought it up 40 notches. The space was stageless and hot and created an environment where the performers and audience felt participatory as one unit.
The setlist started with the group’s newer work and eventually lead into favorites like “Making Breakfast” and an extended version of “Strawberry Smoothie.” Intensity peaked during “Fade Away,” and “Flavor” was another notable track.
Overall the performance exceeded expectations. Minor equipment adjustments like microphone volume would have been advantageous but did not detract drastically from the show.
Even during technical difficulties, guitarist and vocalist Clay Frankel opted to sing his guitar part, further validating the quip and cleverness behind the band’s performance style.
Another adjustment to be made had nothing to do with Twin Peaks, and everything to do with an unseasoned audience.
An intimate show with an accessible band does not allocate selfies with performers mid-song. Recognize organic experiences and live them presently, not through the lens of a cell phone – particularly when it becomes a distraction to the rest of the audience and musicians.
Jack White’s tour management took a more overt approach to social media control. An announcement was made pre-show advising audience members to “experience tonight with your heart, your ears and your soul – not your iPhone.”
And showgoers did just that, with not a single phone in sight. Fans paid ultimate reverence to one of music’s finest talents.
White was accompanied by Fats Kaplin, steel-string guitarist; Lillie Mae Rische, singer and fiddler; and Dominic Davis on the double bass. The string quartet played an assortment of tracks from White’s White Stripes, Raconteurs and solo ventures all acoustically.
On that evening, the Fargo Theatre never felt more magnetic. Set in a bluish uplighting reminiscent of Toulouse-Lautrec’s Moulin Rouge paintings, White mentioned he felt as if he was in a black-and-white movie.
There was a noted sense of camaraderie between audience members – a feeling of appreciation for one another and for the experience shared. Over seven hours of lines and uncertainties, the polarized energy of the day carried into a sense of relief for show time.
“Temporary Ground,” “Blunderbuss” and “Alone in My Home” paired well with the Americana ambiance.
White is one of the few remaining artists built purely on skill rather than brand strategy. The deliverance of every note rolled out of his being in such a raw, organic way that it becomes nearly tear-inducing, and for many, tears were shamelessly shed.
White also made an important pitch highlighting the importance of local music.
“If you feel strongly about music and love music, tell people that, tell your children or future children that. Tell people music is sacred. Music is not disposable and worthless and shouldn’t be treated that way.”
The main set concluded with “Carolina Drama,” and in its last line people found their jaws on the floor. Energy and power built throughout the performance, and by the encore that consisted of “You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket” and “Goodnight, Irene,” the audience was left speechless.
White’s performance was flawless. The only improvements that could be found would exist in the length of the show and the existence of Tidal’s livestream. Tidal’s unsightly equipment was the only distraction from the purity of the show.
Between the two shows – if one was lucky enough to experience both – all we can express is gratitude as we have been present for a significant weekend in Fargo’s entertainment history.