As the crowd readied for Jack White's headliner set at Governors Ball, the distinction between those who chose Skrillex, at the Honda stage, over the former White Stripes frontman and his glorious Nashville-proud band was palpable, and almost welcomed. The half moon burned bright above as crowds of people still sat in circles on the grass, the more urgent fans rushing the stage, as cheers announced his set was imminent. White started promptly on time at 9:30, par for the course for a musician who clearly values his set as a proper performance, rather than just another show.
As White's band took the stage, screens on either side were filled with pictures of portholes, as if the audience was aboard a spaceship that White was steering, the images outside visions of space, stars, moons, planets. Wearing a floral shirt (tucked in) and suspenders, the dapper frontman performed songs from his former groups the White Stripes and the Raconteurs, as well as his 2012 release "Blunderbuss," and forthcoming "Lazaretto."
White first launched into "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," moving with the guitar like it was an extension of his own body, twirling in circles as the band followed suit. Following the first number, White & Co went into a repeated instrumental, that swirled in and out four times in succession, led by a screeching vocal hook "go, go, go, go."
"We love New York," he spat into the mic, before launching into the hook again.
The set was marked by a series of dramatic stops and starts, with the band exceptionally tight in their movements, giving off the impression White must have found the best of the business in Nashville. Two glowing orbs were lit up on either side of the stage, adding to the eerie, other worldly ambiance. White's violinist, his key harmonizer and woman counter part throughout the set, Lillie Mae, was a standout.
"Y'all feelin all right? If you wanna sing along I'm not gonna get mad at you!" White joked to the crowd, before launching into fan favorite "Hotel Yorba," a former White Stripes southern ditty. That got the crowd to yell "One, two, three, four" in unison each time it repeated. White even stopped his band to let the crowd lead the lines "I'm so tired of acting tough, and I'm gonna do what I please."
Launching into "Blunderbuss" standout "Love Interruption," White and Lillie Mae shared the mic on the choruses, a beautiful harmony warming the crowd. Just far enough away from Skrillex to let out a breather, the set felt like the perfect come down to the hot sunny, Governors Ball Day 2. The lull didn't last long as White & Co sank into the raucous "Sixteen Saltines," the band moving in and out of aggressive rhythms, their musicianship on full display.
"Is that too much for you New York? I bet it's not," he cracked. "Before I go any further, I wanna thank each an every one of you standing in the hot sun all day. My heart goes out to you man."
White then took to the piano, for the spaghetti western "The Rose With A Broken Neck," his track with Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi. The slow burning tune felt just right, as White sang "Lonely I see, lonely I need, lonely I feel, lonely I bleed."
The standout moment, though, hit when White and Lillie Mae joined together for an acoustic version of White Stripes' standout "We're Going to Be Friends," a rendition that felt almost like a campfire sing along for the buzzing crowd. In the distance, someone held up two crutches in the air clapping, echoed by a sea of actual hands clapping. Following a riotous rendition of The Raconteurs' "Steady As She Goes," the guitars blared in a solo that railed on and on, as White gave a heartfelt, "Thank you so much New York." All in all, it was a perfectly diverse set from a musician obviously in his prime, as the entire band came down in what sounded like a space shuttle landing.