April 30th, 2012
Loopster Live: The Black Keys at Woodlands Pavilion
Based on the number of tour vehicles, one might have guessed a double, double bill — the stripped-down staging indicated otherwise. For rock’s reigning duo, The Black Keys, seem capable of supporting their show out of a panel van, but bring a fleet of vehicles to ensure that their range of musical influences and interests could just as readily be brought out for display.
Those intent on trying to label or explain The Black Keys sound resort to a list of Blues Rock, Garage Rock, Primitive Rock, Bro Rock, Roots Rock, even Pop Rock – each with some validity, if not unwarranted snark. Yet as singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney take us along on their musical exploration, the most fitting is Catholic Rock. For The Black Keys, the latest 10-year-old+ overnight sensation, chart an interesting course through the evolution of rock from blues to tightly formatted radio to label busting cross-influences (see their contribution on Blakroc). For its simplicity and at times awkward roughness, the music is generally playfully, that of the musical nerd who is joyously sharing his new find from a record store dust bin rather than a pretentious lecture.
Tuesday’s primary set was bookended by a couple of hits, with filler comprised of tracks from most of their albums but pulling heavily from the most recent release “El Camino”. The diverse crowd was appreciative, respectful, a little boozy, but still capable of a passable sing-along for “Little Black Submarine”.
The staging was Midwest basement-chic befitting a stripped down sound, until the encore. “Everlasting Light” brought a massive disco ball into play for the only lighting effect of the evening. The sparkling of thousands of dots elicited a surprisingly enthusiastic response given that 70’s era roller skating rinks had bypassed the majority.
To the naysayers who dismiss las teclas de negro as a flavor of the moment, Tuesday’s performance demonstrated the band’s ability to build upon their root influences, incorporate modern elements while crafting hook-laden earworms. Auerbach’s appetite for musical exploration should prevent a stagnation of sound. Yet the best case for The Keys building a devoted following might be in their ability to make rock look so easy. By starting with a blues base, the straightforward structure of the tunes allow their fans to hold onto the dream that rock stardom is just a few more lessons away.
Howlin’ for You
Run Right Back
Same Old Thing
Dead and Gone
Gold on the Ceiling
Girl Is On My Mind
I’ll Be Your Man
Little Black Submarines
Ten Cent Pistol
She’s Long Gone
I Got Mine