It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since Jack White last played a show in his adopted hometown of Nashville, and significantly longer since he’s played one anywhere as intimate as Ascend Amphitheater, where the rocker will perform across two nights this weekend, April 30 & May 1, in support of his bombastic and experimental new album, Fear of the Dawn. White’s homecoming alone is an exciting prospect, but the story that might even eclipse it, at least for us, is that joining him on night one, April 30, are reunited local garage punk legends Be Your Own Pet, back for the first time in 14 years since briefly taking the world by storm before burning out in the mid-’00s, as one of the best and most exciting rock bands to ever come out Nashville. Retro rocker JD McPherson supports the second night, May 1, and tickets to both are still available here (4/30) and here (5/1). Read on for more about the lineup (especially BYPO, if they were before your time), and don’t miss out on one of the year’s most-essential rock shows!
We’re now a decade out from beloved rocker and Third Man Records head honcho Jack White‘s first turn as a solo artist, Blunderbuss, and 15 years since the last LP he made with The White Stripes (his one project that has, so far, remained in the past, as recent years saw the return of both his pre-solo side projects The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather). It’s been interesting in that time to see how White would reinvent himself with each new album, seemingly challenging himself as an artist to make something unlike anything he’d made before each and every time. It appears that it took a pandemic, however, to truly push his mad musical genius to truly uncharted waters, culminating in not one, but two new records this year, the first of which, Fear of the Dawn, arrived earlier this month. Though it certainly sounds like a Jack White record through and through, Fear of the Dawn is not just the most loud, heavy, bold, and ambitious effort from the rocker ever, but it’s also the first to see him break from his stringent analog devotion and employ a barrage of digital effects and studio experimentation, achieving sounds and song structures unlike anything we’ve heard from him before. It’s at once a satisfyingly headbanging shot of pure rock and roll bliss, and also a weird, technical, music nerd art piece of genre experimentation; thoroughly more interesting and artistically challenging than anything he’s made in years. One of our favorite things about White is that he also seems to reinvent his live show for every tour, assembling the right band and production aesthetic to match the record for which he’s touring, which means for an album as interesting and crowd-pleasing as this, there’s bound to be an equally wild and cranked-up concert to match.
BE YOUR OWN PET (APRIL 30)
When Jack White announced his impressive (and lengthy) list of openers for The Supply Chain Issues Tour last month, our collective jaws dropped at one particular name: Be Your Own Pet. A young group that preceded this site by just a few years, but for a brief moment felt like one of the most exciting and important indie rock bands in the world, if we were ever pressed to pick any one Nashville band to reunite, it would’ve been BYOP, despite the prospect seeming ever-unlikely year by year. Formed in 2004 while still in high school, the group went from burned CDs and DIY shows to world tours, major labels, and endless critical accolades at lightning speed, performing major fests like Coachella, Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, and Reading & Leeds, earning praise from Zane Lowe, appearing on late-night television, and touring with the likes of Sonic Youth and Arctic Monkeys all while still in their teens. Adopting a pop-laden garage punk sound and a wild and unpredictable performance style, BYOP released just two albums and a handful of EPs before burning out in 2008, largely due to the immense pressure of touring, major label pushback, and the constant attention brought on by their meteoric rise. Since their split, singer Jemina Pearl tried her hand at a brief solo career and married Third Man Records’ Ben Swank, guitarist Jonas Stein launched another popular Nashville group who’ve since disbanded, Turbo Fruits, along with second drummer John Eatherly, who later fronted New York post-punk outfit Public Access T.V.; bassist Nathan Vasquez has long been apart of local group Deluxin’, and, of course, original drummer Jamin Orrall found fame with his band JEFF the Brotherhood (and isn’t part of this reunited lineup, though he gives his blessing). Since originally splitting on rocky terms almost 14 years ago, Be Your Own Pet had begun to feel more and more like an amazing band cut short who’d simply be relegated to history, a footnote for those too young to obsess over the next big thing during what’s recently become dubbed as the “sleazy indie” heyday. But recently, after noticing reunions from peers and beginning to reconnect as friends, the band had warmed up to the idea of staging a comeback for fun. And once Jack White came calling, tapping them to perform in New York and Atlanta ahead of this first Nashville, they couldn’t say no. It remains to be seen where things go from here (remarkably, even in their early 30s, the members formed BYOP literally half their life ago), but we really, really, really hope this isn’t the last chance we’ll ever get to see Be Your Own Pet reunite at home. Jack White is the icing on the cake here, but we’d recommend this show one thousand times over just for Be Your Own Pet alone! (Also, you might want to check this out and cancel any plans for this evening!!)
JD MCPHERSON (MAY 1)
If Be Your Own Pet were selected to compliment Jack White’s more frenetic, wild, and punk-spirited side, then second night opener JD McPherson is a perfect match for his rootsier, traditionalist rock and roll spirit and flair for the eclectic. The Oklahoma native has cultivated a retro rock and roll sound over a decade of great albums, though his work as a visual artist and his affinity for hip hop and punk music has always given his music a bit more of an interesting and modern flair (and made for some super cool choices in cover songs over the years). A supremely gifted songwriter with a knack for storytelling, and a road-worn live player who puts on one seriously great show, McPherson will be a wonderful start to the second evening!
Jack White will perform Saturday, April 30 with Be Your Own Pet and Sunday, May 1 with JD McPherson at Ascend Amphitheater. The shows are all ages, began at 8 p.m., and tickets are available to purchase for $45-135 here (4/30) and here (5/1).