The Turd in the Punchbowl Award
By David M. Goldstein | 13 December 2012
By most matrices, 2012 has been something of a banner year for Jack White. He put out a lauded solo record, the first twenty minutes of which was the greatest White Stripes album since Elephant (2005); he made an uncharacteristically interesting appearance on Saturday Night Live showcasing both of his all-female/all-male backing bands; and showed himself to be both funny and fiercely intelligent on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, while suggesting that he can fall back on his skills as a master upholsterer should the rock game become tiresome. His Nashville-based Third Man Records continues to grow in stature as the recording studio du jour for getting hot performances on the fly—Radiohead stopped by earlier this year, and during New York City’s recent annual CMJ marathon, a yellow food truck emblazoned with the Third Man logo set up shop in a lot around the corner from NYC hipster-staple the Ace Hotel, dishing out vinyl rarities to a line stretched around the block.
But it would be too much to simply ask for a year in which White both builds his brand while keeping all of his artistic integrity intact. He also burns to remind the masses that at heart, he’s an insufferable diva. The Jack White fans that sold out New York’s 6,000 capacity Radio City Music Hall on September 29 paid nearly three figures for the best seats at face value, and lord only knows the scalpers probably made five times that. So when Jack White pitched a fit and ended the show after only fifty-five minutes, it’s hard to blame the kids for cursing him out and rioting outside.
Rumors swirled that White was unhappy with the sound quality, unhappy with the amount of tickets that went to scalpers, and maybe unhappy with a shirtless, heckling brah in the front row. But none of this matters. Cutting a show of that magnitude short with no explanation, no refund, and no make-up date is some inexcusable, Rock ‘n’ Roll (2003)-era Ryan Adams shit. Jack White knows better, his audience deserves better, and despite the general excellence of his 2012 output, it’s infantile episodes such as this that will continue to reinforce the man’s reputation as kind of a dick.