Jack White February 4, Brooklyn Bowl.
The Stones at the old Joint. Dylan at House of Blues. Beastie Boys at the Huntridge. Matador weekend at the Pearl. It’s a tradition as woven into Las Vegas concert lore as any epic encore or surprise guest: the golden ticket, a super-coveted show that sells out in seconds, whatever the price. And on Wednesday, Brooklyn Bowl played host to a big one.
Tickets for Jack White’s midweek performance, originally offered at $65, sold for $300-plus in the days prior, and fans crowded around the Linq as the hour approached, praying for miracle access to a hall that would fill to absolute capacity. For those who did get in, the mass of humanity made for a mixed experience, loaded with magical energy on one hand, logistical frustration on the other. Quality sightlines, normally plentiful at the Bowl, were tough to score, with swatches of both levels left without direct view of the stage. And for those on the intensely packed floor, hitting a bar or bathroom was tough even before the headliner took the stage at 10:30 p.m.
Such are the costs of a golden ticket, however—of catching a Coachella headliner in an intimate, acoustically superior space. And as soon as White announced his presence with the opening notes to “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground,” little else mattered beyond his voice, his electric guitar and his five-piece backing band. Working through a solid-if-somewhat-short hour-long main set that toggled between White Stripes favorites (“Hotel Yorba,” “We’re Going to Be Friends,” “Icky Thump”) and solo material—and also touched on songs by American icons Hank Williams, Muddy Waters and Loretta Lynn—the 39-year-old Michigan man was every bit the focused musical weapon veteran Vegas showgoers remember from the Stripes’ legendary 2003 tour stop. A savage, extended version of “Canon” served as the centerpiece this time, though the simple, stripped-back blues of “I Fought Piranhas” (part of a 30-minute encore) felt like the night’s maximum achievement, best encapsulating White’s raw, throwback appeal.
“I wish I could say this was the first bowling alley I’ve played in, but that would not be true,” he announced, though, as always with White, it was tough to tell where truth diverged with fiction. One thing more certain was the night’s enduring import. As with any golden ticket, it was the sort of show you felt lucky to have witnessed, even if it wasn’t the absolute best concert you’d ever seen.