Jack White played a surprise show to a small crowd in Mariachi Square in Boyle Heights on Friday afternoon. (Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times / August 10, 2012)
Equal parts confusion and adulation reigned in the East L.A. neighborhood of Boyle Heights on Friday afternoon as Jack White, accompanied by his hard-rocking, all-lady band, took to the small outdoor stage in Mariachi Square to play a driving 20-minute set.
A few hours earlier, White had concluded a Q&A session at the Grammy Museum, then at 2:30 p.m. his Third Man Records tweeted, "Jack White B show. B there. B square. Mariachi Plaza. Boyle Heights. 3:30 pm."
The mercury soared to nearly 95 degrees as White and the band rolled up to the square in a sleek black van. A low-key weekly street market was taking place and a three-man mariachi band played "Besame Mucho" as White, dressed in plaid pants, a long-sleeved buttoned-up black shirt and a fedora, hopped onstage.
The band's gear was already set up and the group immediately began to play a list of rowdy, guitar-driven classics along with some new material from "Blunderbuss," the solo record White is currently touring.
Locals looked on with curiosity as they browsed booths and a hugely excited group of about 50 hipsters craned their necks and frantically shot cellphone pictures. White's rolling record store was also set up at the surprise show with 20 lucky people scoring limited-edition copies of the Blunderbuss White Lightning vinyl.
After the show, White and company promptly left the stage and were herded back into their van, likely going straight to the Shrine to prepare for the show they'll play there tonight to a crowd of more than 6,000.
The lucky, sweaty few who caught White up close and personal included a very excited John Rendos from Chicago, who was visiting friends and has tickets to the Shrine show.
"I had a feeling they were going to do something like this," said Rendos, shaking his head in amazement. "We saw it on Twitter and raced here from Hollywood. All my friends are stuck in traffic. Man, that was incredible."
Next to him another fan named Eric Harmon cradled a limited-edition vinyl under his arm.
"I just saw him at the Grammy Museum and proceeded to go to Wurstkuche when I saw the Tweet," said Harmon. "Grammy, beer, sausage, mariachi concert, it couldn't get any better. And it's my birthday!"
"You got a vinyl, too?" asked another fan, Charlie Ittner, who also caught White at the Grammy Museum. "I love it when bands care enough to do something like this."