Jack White’s nearly three-hour headlining set at Bonnaroo on Saturday night was the best gig of the huge event, which vies with Coachella for the title of America’s best summer festival.
White didn’t have to do much to impress after Friday’s headliner, Kanye West, disappointed Bonnaroovians by refusing to play for most of his set and instead going on several of his signature long, bizarre, and egotistical rants. White has played Bonnaroo in all of his other bands: the Dead Weather in 2010, the Raconteurs in 2008, and the White Stripes in 2007. While he’s generally supportive of Bonnaroo as an important musical event in his new home state, White has never been shy about the fact that he doesn’t like playing festival shows or for large audiences in general. He’s an artist that is best seen in a theater setting and will play several nights in a smaller venue rather than at a stadium when touring.
White went into his first Bonnaroo headlining set as a solo artist with a positive attitude, and total adoration from the enormous crowd kept him onstage far past his scheduled time as he played songs from throughout his expansive catalog, leaning heavily on material from his solo albums, 2012′s Blunderbuss and the just-released Lazaretto. As for his other acts, White played the Raconteurs songs “Steady As She Goes” and “Top Yourself,” and told the audience the story of how his first side project formed. When his friend Brendan Benson called him and asked for help with some songs he was writing White said he “didn’t have anything better to do.” He went on to talk about how having “something better to do” can be the biggest killer of creativity and innovation there is.