While Coachella was filled with many highlights this past weekend, one of the sharpest standout moments came during Jack White's headlining set on Friday. He opened the performance with "Icky Thump," the title track to the White Stripes' 2007 studio album. But despite all the force and panache White emitted during the song (and the rest of his set), my eyes were locked on his drummer, Daru Jones.
The Michigan native played through the 20-song setlist with a ferocity and wild spirit that reminded me of Keith Moon in the Who's Monterey Pop concert film. Instead of sitting on his drum throne during songs like "Hello Operator" and "Seven Nation Army," Jones often stood straight up as he choked his cymbals, swung his drumsticks in an aerial display, and made eye contact with White.
I wasn't the only one fixated on Jones. Whoever was in control of the shots that appeared on the gargantuan video screens on each side of the stage made sure the drummer showed up at least a few times per minute of the show. That kind of exposure is usually reserved for the singer and guitarist, not the person sitting behind the drum set. (Unless you're Neil Peart or Travis Barker.)
As soon as I got back from Coachella, I Googled Jones to see what his story was. Having worked with the likes of Nas, Talib Kweli and Raekwon before his gig with Jack White, Jones has hip-hop cred for days. Actually, it turns out that he first came into White's orbit through the Detroit rapper Black Milk. The emcee had brought Jones along to a recording session and performance at White's Third Man Records facility in Nashville. Like me, the White Stripes mastermind was instantly hypnotized by the drummer's funky yet aggressive playing style.
Since then, Jones has been part of White's touring band and has also appeared on his two solo albums: Blunderbuss and Lazaretto. The drummer's profile has risen through this association, inspiring feature profiles and Reddit threads along the way. Born to two professional musicians, Jones is on cloud nine these days. "I had big dreams. I wanted to be an all-around musician," he told Esquire. "I feel like my talent that I was blessed with was not only for the church. That was my challenge. And now...I just feel like the heavens have opened."
Don't miss Wristbanded: Coachella Valley presented by Doritos premiering this Saturday, April 18, at 5/4c and encoring Sunday, April 19, at 5/4c. Find Fuse in your area with our channel finder.