Jack White's Secret One-Off London Show With Punchdrunk

 David James Swanson

Last night at midnight in central London, Jack White played a secret show in the basement of a disused office block to fans clad entirely in powder-blue medical gowns.

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The event was a collaboration between Jack and theater mavericks Punchdrunk, who temporarily had transformed the space into the Vescovo & Co. Clinic for contagious diseases, staffed with doctors, nurses and orderlies at the time of a disease outbreak. The locale was a take on White's new Third Man/Columbia album, Lazaretto, which debuted at No. 1 last month on the Billboard Top 200. Lazaretto is the name for a quarantined hospital meant for patients with infectious diseases, especially leprosy and the plague.

Drawing on those themes, the experience began with an elaborate online treasure hunt. A spoof medical infomercial from 1948 appeared in the archives of online medical resource the Wellcome Trust, which contained various obtuse clues leading Jack's superfans to a website belonging to the fake medical organization Vescovo & Co. Thousands of fans submitted their details to this website as part of an online screening for a contagious disease. A lucky few progressed through the screening process and received a telephone call, inviting them to an out-of-hours appointment at the Vescovo Clinic. Punchdrunk created the clinic across multiple floors of a disused building owned by the Vinyl Factory.

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Upon arrival, fans were asked to change into blue medical gowns before being subjected to a variety of treatments and tests in a maze of medical rooms. Chaos descended as an outbreak alarm was raised and terrified fans were herded into a smoke-filled isolation chamber. Finally a screen was dropped to reveal Jack and his band in full medical uniforms, who proceeded to belt out a 30-minute set before Jack himself succumbed to the mysterious disease. The rock star fell to the ground in a fit of convulsions before being strapped to a stretcher and wheeled off to a waiting ambulance. He's OK, folks.

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