@ZackTeibloom I was worried about this crash for weeks. When Third Man Records announced they were having a showcase, it was pretty much a given that its founder, Jack White, would be headlining even though he was left off the initial bill. A couple weeks ago, Third Man confirmed that, for the second consecutive year, Jack White would be playing a small, intimate SXSW show. Last years spontaneous noon Wednesday show drew only a hundred or two on the street, but Jack would be headlining the show to be at on Friday night of music week, which would make it the hottest ticket of SXSW.
All week leading up to Friday, I prayed that some surprise last second rumor would get passed around to divert some of the attention away from my boy Jack. They always happen. The Jay-Z and Kanye rumor that has everyone running all over town. Anyone? I’d even be OK with one of my favorites like Arcade Fire or Radiohead. Anything to make sure not everyone in town would be lined up for Jack. It never happened. There weren’t any big surprise rumors and The Third Man Showcase was the place to be. Only the Kanye show last year at the Power Plant was more impossible for badge holders to get into. The poster for the show said badge holders and wristbands would be welcome, but that wasn’t to be the case. My fellow die-hard @MichaelRox had been lined up since noon, and he even had a badge! I’d joked about spending the night in the Stage on Sixth’s bathroom overnight to make sure I got in, but it was Caitlin’s birthday and I promised to stick with her for afternoon shows, through The Drums at 6 p.m. I sang along and danced to The Drums, but that 7:30 start time for Third Man was beckoning.
We’d already put in over 7 hours for the day on our deeply blistered feet, so Caitlin decided she needed to rest up and have some dinner before meeting me at Jack. I was sad to see her go, but knew it was what we both needed. I took off my Ezra Furman t-shirt and handed it to Caitlin to take home, revealing my White Stripes t-shirt* underneath, ducked into IHOP for a quick piss and started literally running towards Jack.When I arrived at the Stage on Sixth, I saw a confusing scene unfolding. A couple guards were re-directing a line and having everyone in it get against the wall. I joined the line about halfway back as they were forming and started talking to a few people around me. They’d been told that it was now badge only, and several big signs on the door let us know it was now a badge-only show. I didn’t understand why everyone in my line had a wristband only. I saw a large cluster of people around the Third Man Rolling Record Store Truck parked in front, but assumed they were buying vinyl. After five minutes, I spotted @MichaelRox third in line by the truck and realized that that it was the badge line, not people buying vinyl. It was approaching 7 p.m. and they weren’t letting anyone in yet, so I didn’t have a move to make. I just stood in that useless wristband line and started a barrage of tweets. I had no idea how long that line was at that point.
After tweeting “Challenge accepted!” as a response to @MichaelRox letting me know it was badge only, I tweeted, “I feel like I used to right before an advanced math class test I was totally unprepared for.” This was a reference to when I was 7th grade and I was in an accelerated math class where they bused me to the high school every day. I was really good at math, but not that good, so I was totally out of my element. I failed the first test miserably and then was so panicked the day of the second test that I kinda pretended to throw up so I could go home and not take the test. My mom called me on it and they put me in a less nerdy math class. I had that pit of my stomach feeling that it was not going to work out, but throwing up was not going to get me out of this one. I wasted like 20 minutes in this wristband line talking to these drunk kids who had no shot of getting in. I was biding my time and finding solace from a lot of encouraging tweets from friends and well-wishers, tweeting “I mean, I’m going to fucking try. I’m not above bribes or extreme measures if it comes to that. Thanks for the encouragement**.”
Another picture of everyone who didn’t get into the show, but tried to watch from outside. Can we get Jack a bigger venue next year, please? And more than one show.
Just like the night before at Tenacious D, they tried to temper the expectations of people in line. This really detestable woman came by with an announcement, leading me to tweet, “Some bitch just told us wristbands are not getting in. I kill you!” I typed the c-word in my phone and deleted it. I was really steamed, you guys. Nosy lady wasn’t gonna hold us back! “Easily 100 people in wristband line refuse to leave third man showcase even after they told us we will not get in.” OK, she didn’t discourage me altogether, but I did realize I’d need to find another way in. I think it was an accident, but @mcgonicleATX set the wheels in motion for the crash to happen. He tweeted “I don’t think the day party VIP pass means sh!t, but if it does you’re welcome to it. Also, short secretive line in the back.” I didn’t know what to make of that, but I did try to find “the back.”
I started walking around the venue and finally see how daunting the badge line is. It’s at least a couple hundred people long and not moving an inch. I say hi to a couple friends in line and head for the alley. I find there are two doors. One of them is guarded by an Australian guy who says he may be open to being bought for $20, but not now, since no one can go in or out of the venue. “Try back in an hour.” Then I see a friendly guy in a Third Man Records yellow and black uniform and try to shmooze it up with him.
The Third Man employee is walking around in his yellow and black outfit, getting the last of some supplies from a truck. I’ve pulled the fake roadie crash a few times and ask if he needs help carrying anything. Unfortunately for me, he has just about everything unpacked. I try to lay a sob story on him about how I only bought the wristband to see this show and now they aren’t accepting wristbands. He’s a total gentleman about it, but he makes it clear there really isn’t anything he can do. As I tweeted at the time, “Making friends with door guy and third man staff…still doubtful.” I go back around to the front and see there’s another option. There’s a roped off porch in front, where people on the inside are going to smoke cigarettes and congregate. It’s still fairly heavily guarded though, and it’s right in front of everything, so every move I make would be seen by easily a hundred people. Way too visible and way too many guards around. The sit down slide guitarist for Jack’s guy band sees me and a few others looking into the venue wistfully and tells us it looks like we’re in jail. I tell him it feels that way.
I head back to the alley and find a number of people eating sandwiches and milling around, but I don’t have time for that. I’m locked in on the mission. It’s after 7:30 at this point, and people are slowly being let into the venue, so I’m getting to the point where I’ll be more aggressive if a move is there. The door guarded by the Australian guy is now closed, and locked from the inside, I have to assume, but there’s three people milling around the other door. That door is guarded by a volunteer and a door guy, but neither of them look too concerned and neither is really blocking the entrance way. At least one of the people by the door looks like they’re in a band, stepping out for a smoke or something and all look like they could duck back inside at any moment. I sidle up near them and then the three of them start moving into the building. I’m close enough that I could conceivably be with them, but not convincing enough that the door guy doesn’t ask, “Do you have a badge?” as I walk past. I don’t break stride or make eye contact. I just say “yes” way more convincingly than I did the night before and keep walking. And I never look back. I find @MichaelRox in the second row and prepare for the best concert of my life.
*Yes, I was double that guy, wearing the shirt of two bands I was going to see in the same day. What can you do? If I could wear a shirt that described every activity, I’d probably do it. Driving shirt! Eating shirt! Sleeping shirt! Too far?
**Thank you, @sideonetrackone, kpengell, sierraelisabeth, @kibbe, @john_estrada, @sushigirl_ATX, @oxfordist, @2dogphish, @mattsilver, @snoogans913 and of course @catwitt for the encouragement while I was trying to crash. It really helped.