Monday afternoon, Jack White unceremoniously sauntered through the crowd at Hollywood Candy in the Old Market. The shy musician smiled once and shook a few hands.
White wasn’t there for sweets. He was there to rock out.
Less than an hour before he arrived, his record label posted a message to Twitter that the rock star would play a small, free, secret show at the combined candy and antique store in the Old Market.
Within half an hour, the store was flooded with hundreds of people and a line wound through the aisles.
Casey Boyd, 32, traveled from Moline, Ill., to see White’s Monday night performance at the Omaha Music Hall.
“We were about to get in line when we heard about it on Twitter, so we rushed over,” she said.
About 100 people fit into the store’s tiny movie theater to watch White and his six-member, all-female band play six songs. Among them were rock show regulars I recognized, one small child and most of the employees of Saddle Creek Records.
The band started with The White Stripes’ “Hotel Yorba” and the audience immediately started jumping and yelling.
White barely paused between songs and said few words.
“Sorry, I wanted to be in tune for you,” he said after tuning his guitar between songs. “Y’all feelin’ OK?”
Many pulled out phones and snapped pictures and captured video of the show.
Next was “Love Interruption” from White’s recently-released solo album, “Blunderbuss.”
White, who headlined Lollapalooza the night before, put a lot of energy into the performance, the same as if 10,000 people were in attendance instead of 100. He tore into his guitar, which produced heavy blues tones as the notes careened around the tiny room.
In the middle of the set was White’s version of The White Stripes’s “Tennesee Border,” which was originally by Hank Williams. The band followed with White’s “Hypocritical Kiss” and The White Stripes “The Same Boy You’ve Always Known.”
White started the show with an acoustic guitar, but he switched to a Fender Telecaster electric for The White Stripes’ “Ball and Biscuit” to close the set.
Inside the hot theater, fans danced during the song’s long guitar jam. When White and his band were finished, they screamed for more, but he had little to say.
“Alright!” he said before he walked out. “Thank y’all.”
I was told by an owner and other staff that the whole thing came together at a rather late hour. Around 2 p.m., band representatives popped into the store and told them White wanted to do a show there. They thought the theater would work, but the capacity was obviously small. Apparently, they asked other places around downtown to play, but were turned down.
Band techs loaded gear in and there was no soundcheck. When White walked through the crowd and strapped on his guitar, that was it.
Lots of fans loitered outside to try to grab and autograph and many more stood in line at the Third Man Records’ rolling record shop to buy “Blunderbuss” LPs.
“Hotel Yorba” (The White Stripes)
“Tennessee Border” (The White Stripes, originally by Hank Williams)
“The Same Boy You’ve Always Known” (The White Stripes)
“Ball and Biscuit” (The White Stripes)
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