Senior Natalia Thomas sat quietly in her AP Chemistry class, scribbling down the last of her notes until she was saved by the bell, signaling the end of fourth period and the start of lunch. As she started packing up her items to make her way to the jam-packed cafeteria, she abruptly halted. The second-floor hallway was filled with the faint sound of drums and the electric vibe of a guitar, a strange noise compared to the usual clamor of the building during lunch. Realizing the source of the sound was in the atrium, she made her way to the center of Wilson to investigate the commotion. There, amidst the crowd of stargazed Wilson students, she saw a “rock band artist-looking guy” on a guitar, surrounded by other men playing instruments. “I had no idea who [the man playing] was before that day,” Thomas recalled.
That “rock band artist-looking guy” happened to be Jack White, a 12-time Grammy-winning singer, and guitarist for the duo The White Stripes. On May 30, White and Principal Kimberly Martin corroborated on a free pop-up show at Wilson, just hours before his “BORDER HOUSE REACH” tour stop at the Anthem. The pop-up show came as a complete surprise to students and many faculty members at Wilson.
But White’s not done dropping bombshells.
On September 11, White announced the premiere of his new concert film, “Jack White: KNEELING AT THE ANTHEM DC.” Premiering exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on September 21, the documentary not only captures White’s performance at the DC venue but includes footage of White’s surprise show at Wilson. To coincide the film, White released a six-track live EP of snippets from his performance at the Anthem. Featuring live hits such as “Blunderbuss” and “Ice Station Zebra,” as well as a recorded version of “Connected by Love,” the EP and DVD gives those who weren’t in attendance the firsthand experience of Jack White.
The film opens with White peering out of the second-floor windows, looking down on the Wilson field. White is shown talking through his plan for performing and then is seen walking down the stairs and into the atrium. Immediately, you can see the excitement on all of the Wilson students’ faces.
Junior Finnegan Seagraves, senior Caue Fontes, and senior Kaya Smith were all interviewed for the documentary. Seeing fellow classmates being interviewed or rocking out made the film exciting for us to watch, and made us proud to attend a now somewhat famous school.
“Jack White: KNEELING AT THE ANTHEM DC” then transitions into the band just minutes before they go on stage. Right before they enter, the film switches to DC sites bathed in blue light, then back to the band and the stage, both also bathed in the blue hue. Later on, Evans talks about all of the “revolutionary” bands that came out of DC. White agrees, adding that attending his first Fugazi concert “changed me profoundly.”
When watching the film, one slips into the music and the atmosphere as if they were actually attending the concert. Performance clips are occasionally interrupted by clips of White and the other band members talking, revealing White’s spontaneous and quirky personality.
“People [are] almost relearning how to watch a show again,” White explained when talking about his shift to no-phone concerts when he became the first artist to lead a national tour requiring fans to seal their phone in the now-infamous Yondr bags. “I thought people… or at least, like, 50 percent were gonna hate it, you know… I expected a lot of negativity, but it’s been insanely positive.”
The film concludes with White performing his hit song “Seven Nation Army,” with the last of the footage flipping between him performing at the Anthem and his performance at Wilson. White reflected, “when we were in high school, if any band that had any musicians of any modicum of talent would be in front of you, like that, that would have been mind-blowing for us to see.”