It was my third time seeing the Black Keys live last Saturday night, and they never seem to disappoint me. Although longtime fans may feel the duo comprised of Dan Auerbach (Vocals/Guitar) and Patrick Carney (Drums) may have lost a bit of an edge from the remembrance of their earlier albums, Magic Potion and Attack and Release, which carried themes to an eerily literal but quintessentially blues-y level. These days, the light’s been shining on the band since Brothers (2010) and recent El Camino, making the Black Keys one of the biggest bands to date—and frankly, giving them the term, “mainstream.” The variety of people in the audience were friends, families, drunkies as well as those who were clearly on a date (basically, a familiar crowd you’d see at any mainstream event) but obviously, it’s still fans who come to enjoy good music, which the Black Keys can prove, there is no argument there. “Part 2—Let’s go!” Dan Auerbach shouts to the audience.
“Da da, da da, da, / Da, da da, da / Da da, da da, da / Da, da da”
Opening with “Howlin For You”—such sounds; after all, gets the crowd on their feet and moving to the music immediately. And as for the duo from Ohio—they’ve discovered, it’s these songs, people sure like to sing along to while it becomes one of several highlights of the evening. However, the outstanding drumming Carney brings to his live performances shows full force with “Next Girl” around Auerbach’s impenetrable guitar style and pitch perfect harmonies.
Kicking off with Brothers’ cuts, and recent El Camino, “Run Right Back”, the duo’s performance accounts for a great deal of variety as well—running through twenty songs taken from all periods of their career. The Black Keys pull out a few tracks from Attack and Release, Magic Potion, and Rubber Factory. They even went all the way back to Thickfreakness. These two make considerably attractive noise together, but it wasn’t surprising that, for this particular performance, the duo added two musicians on hand helping out with bass, keys and guitar who joined the band off and on for the first and final parts of the show.
But it was El Camino’s “Little Black Submarines” that sets up the best guitar/drum chemistry between the two as well as it being one of my many favorites. Auerbach initially standing alone on stage, while the crowd sings along to the vocals and his minimalist guitar playing, blending together perfectly in notes that sound ethereal. The light dims—audience shouts, and epic drums fills joined by Carney and the rest of the band. Other new tunes like, “Money Maker” and “Nova Baby” had a lot of versatility too, along with Attack and Release’s older tracks, “Same Old Thing” and “Strange Times.”
Brothers breakthrough single “Tighten Up” obviously caused a major crowd sing-along, and their El Camino, “Gold on the Ceiling” was astonishingly fierce. The band stood in front of the enhancing, yet not distracting, black-and-white films of desert scenes that were projected on a large white screen. Understandably, Auerbach delighted the crowd by stretching out many songs with his riffs and solos that included “Girl is on my Mind” and “She’s Long Gone.” Though the drums pounded out with a phenomenal intro of “Tent Cent Pistol” while a single light was directly over Carney, and the vocals were approaching to kick in.
Auerbach uttered a few lines of conversation throughout their performance, but really, he let his guitar do most of the talking. However, he made sure to give a few shout outs to his buddy Patrick Carney and a thank you for the Black Keys supporting act, Tegan and Sara. He shouts out—“This is our last one, now let’s get a little crazy” as El Camino’s “Lonely Boy” breaks in. This tune almost throws you back to a riff that’s as catchy as the whistling intro on “Tighten Up.” It was definitely a perfect end before “Everlasting Light”—a stellar encore that had a massive disco ball appearing on stage—filling the arena with fairy white lights. The duo, closing appropriately with “I Got Mine,” from 2008’s Attack and Release had brought the show to an official end.
Despite being over a decade old, the two are going stronger than ever from painfully growing a loyal and steady fan-base to making high quality records. Auerbach mostly ran around energetically like proper arena-filling rock front man does. It’s cliche as hell, but they sure know what they do best—playing infectious notes, and playing them hard and loud. Personally, it was yet, another success for The Black Keys as they performed at the iconic venue—Staples Center. Until next time…
Opening the night was Tegan and Sara.
If you’ve ever been to a Tegan and Sara concert, you know that they display genuineness over the course of their set. Officially, I got to see the two talented and totally lovable Canadian twin sisters for the first time at—Staples Center. It was their second performance of a two-night stand while supporting Ohio’s renowned rock n’ soul-blues duo—The Black Keys. Tegan and Sara have also built a large following for their established indie-folk roots over the past decade. It was Saturday night when the two strapped on their guitars and opened with 2004’s hit single “Walking with the Ghost.”
“We’re Tegan and Sara—next are The Black Keys, and they’re going to melt your fucking faces off.” Touche, Tegan and Sara, although, the duo’s set wasn’t quite over yet, nor did I want it to be. They’re known for having snappy vocals and catchy tunes, and the twins definitely pulled out some old favorites. “So Jealous”, “Northshore”, and “Aligator” were all there.
“Behind a wall / Between us in our bed / Repeat, repeat the words / That I know we both have said.”
Tegan and Sara had broke into The Con’s 2007 “Back In Your Head.” (Despite the few bumps in the road) when—music stops —“Hold on, hold on, um, huge fight going on over here” says Sara.
“Your not my best friend anymore, no—you’re not my best friend” says Tegan as she jokingly speaks for the two boys pushing one another in the crowd.
“Ha, alright, let’s go back playing some music now”
The two, again, starts up the song and finishes on point with its clever verses and cute harmonies. Tegan and Sara’s older tunes had also fit in wonderfully next to the newest hits including, “Closer” that has playful pop sensibilities, infectious lyrics, with the occasional spark of punk rhythm.
Nevertheless, it’s truly interesting when we’re able to approach music that we’ve associated with in the past, and returning to those exact feelings. I was stoked to hear Tegan and Sara’s older indie-punk melodies that I used to jam to in my own teen-years. Before the duo broke into the song “Nineteen”, the girls told the crowd they’ve never thought when writing this song, at nineteen, they would be playing with a band, such as—The Black Keys. Simply, “We feel tickled by it, “ said the two.
I loved the fact Tegan and Sara ended their set with “Living Room” and seeing them live was definitely long over due; however, maybe Saturday night might’ve just been the right time.
The Black Keys Setlist: Howlin’ For You | Next Girl | Run Right Back | Same Old Thing | Dead and Gone | Gold on the Ceiling | Thickfreakness | Girl is on My Mind | Your Touch | Little Black Submarines | Money Maker | Strange Times | Chop and Change | Nova Baby | Tent Cent Pistol | She’s Long Gone | Tighten Up | Lonely Boy ENCORE:
Everlasting Light | I Got Mine