People were still singing the "Seven Nation Army" chant down the stairs at Madison Square Garden shortly after Jack White took his final bow. Amidst the sold-out crowd I spotted a guy holding his 8-or-9-year-old son's hand. Dad and boy both wore glasses and had similar tousled haircuts. They quickly disappeared onto the street, but the sight of them walking together stuck in my mind.
I didn't fully appreciate Jack White until he went solo--I regrettably wasn't as into the White Stripes when they were A Thing as I should have been. Since White's 2012 solo debut Blunderbuss I've become progressively more intrigued by his mystique and more appreciative of his old-soul/innovator dichotomy.
I've always been fascinated by detail-obsessed individuals, and Jack White's attention to detail is legendary: his strict use of color, his devotion to the number 3, his thematic fixation on ghosts, to name just a few. A 2014 Rolling Stone profile called White "rock & roll's Willy Wonka," a quote I'll never forget because it sums up everything I respect about him. Willy Wonka was my favorite movie character as a child; I wished that people could be like him in real life. Consistent. Capable of making anything happen. Always in control of his fate.
Jack White is that adult--the magical transcendent adult we need in our lives to remind us what's possible beyond the realm of the daily grind. He's freed himself of things he doesn't like (smartphones, The Black Keys) and devoted himself to things he really clearly genuinely cares about. It's such a relief to go to a show where a performer asks people not to use their phones and the audience actually--shockingly--complies. It's a relief to know that an artist under 40 invested millions of dollars at little gain to save old blues records from obscurity. It's a relief to see someone respect his past and present influences: at MSG, White mentioned Robert Johnson and Run-DMC in the same breath before bringing out Q-Tip to rap "That Black Bat Licorice" with him. And as much as Jack White seems like a man from a long-gone era*, he is at the same time more hip than anyone else--and always has been (he once ran an upholstery business and hid his records inside chairs).
To the dad who brought his son to see Jack White: you did a good thing. Your child will thank you for giving him access to a musician who isn't full of shit.
*My favorite Jack White fact is that he doesn't let his children play with video games and gives them pinball machines instead.