The Wilson Beacon

Jack White gives surprise performance at Wilson during lunch

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Jack White gives surprise performance at Wilson during lunch

Ellida Parker

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Most days, Wilson students pour out of class after fourth period and shuffle down packed stairwells to the atrium, where they settle in for lunch or head off campus to get food. Assistant Principal Gregory Bargeman usually plays ‘80s hits from a speaker; once in a while, a few kids get up and dance.

Today, the second floor was rattling after fourth period. Noise echoed through hallways and drowned out conversations close to the atrium. In the art wing on the other side of the school, people speculated that Bargeman must have ramped up his sound system.

But it wasn’t Bargeman. It was Jack White shredding a blue electric guitar, backed by a barefoot drummer, two musicians playing multi-level synths, and a bassist.

It took a few moments for most students filing into the atrium to realize it was him: there was no context or introduction given, and no one had known that White would be performing. “I didn’t know who it was at first,” said sophomore Kaya Smith. “Then I was like, ‘oh my gosh, it’s frickin Jack White!’ I lost my mind when I saw him. I lost everything. I almost started crying. I was shaking my head, I was shaking my hair, I was doing everything.”

White beckoned awestruck students closer, and a full-on mosh pit formed. Junior Caue Fuentes was at the front. “It was euphoria,” he said. “They were right there–it was awesome. I was able to get a guitar pick they used.”

White has won twelve Grammy awards over the course of his two-decade career, and each of his three solo albums have reached number one on the Billboard charts. From 1997 to 2011, he was the lead singer and guitarist of the duo The White Stripes.

Scheduled to play at The Anthem tonight, he wanted to stop by a DC high school prior to the show. “Jack likes to do these things a lot,” said one of his crew members. “He just likes to do random shows in the town he’s playing the show in. So it’s usually schools, elderly homes…”

White contacted Principal Kimberly Martin several days ago asking to put on a pop-up show during lunch. Martin didn’t inform staff of the performance until this morning. For almost everyone in the building, the show was a shock.

“It was so unexpected, so it was all very raw and present and surreal,” said junior William Wright. “I swear, Wilson gets more surreal everyday.”

Kids held up flashlights during “The Same Boy You’ve Always Known,” moshed to “Over and Over and Over,” and rushed the steps during “Seven Nation Army,” the last song on the set.

White left as the bell rang for sixth period, saying a quick goodbye before making a beeline for the front door, trailed by dozens of students.

Then the atrium emptied out, students headed back to class, and Jack White drove away.


About the Photographer
Jackson Fox-Bland, Visual Content Editor

Jackson is a senior human who appreciates pearlescent cacti and sometimes cooks lasagna and hates Mondays.


3 Responses to “Jack White gives surprise performance at Wilson during lunch”

  1. Alex Wilson on May 30th, 2018 9:19 pm

    A great start for your leadership ….
    No notice and great coverage !

  2. Randy Crome on May 31st, 2018 6:12 pm

    I’m a teacher in Kansas. Just saw Jack White in concert last month. Great article. Rock on Wilson High!

  3. Jeff Miller on June 1st, 2018 3:40 am

    Longtime music journalist here. A: this story is amazing. B. This STORY is amazing. You guys nailed every aspect of it: the color, the quotes, the background. This is better than a ton of pro-level stuff out in the world, and I had no clue that this was a student paper while reading. Amazing job.

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Jack White gives surprise performance at Wilson during lunch