The Black Keys / The Fine Line / June 28, 2007
Text by Pat O'Brien
Better Than: R.L. Burnside being brought back to life
Ohio seems to be a place where, if you're a band, you want to be from another place and time altogether. Devo wanted to be from the future, Guided By Voices seemed like they would have been more at home in Mod '60s London, and now the Black Keys seem as though they could have sprung whole from the Mississippi Delta, circa 1950.
With a wave, smile and "Hi, we're the Black Keys" singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach ripped into the first song and the crowd seemed to stop talking and shoot bolt upright in the same motion, his whiskey-baked voice a beacon in a storm. The dirty, gritty, raw blues that essentially grabbed everyone by their collars is one thing on record, but seeing it live is quite another. The riffs were familiar, but not warmed over or worn threadbare like so many blues bands of late. Auerbach (who's beard made him look Civil War-esque) and drummer Patrick Carney gave new meaning to the term "workhorse," hammering out song after song with barely a word to the audience—not in contempt, they simply had a job to do. Carney very carefully took his glasses off before the set and it was soon apparent why; sweat was soon flailing from his brow, his hair hanging in long strings from the savage assault on his kit, the glasses would have removed themselves from his face in short order if he hadn't. If you closed your eyes, you'd swear there were four or five of them up there, and that's the draw—two guys, one vision, no frills. The crowd became more and more electrified with each song and the copious amounts of feedback between them until, with another smile and "We'll see you next time, thanks," it was over, the crowd hardly satiated but certainly content with what was given to them.
Personal Bias: I once told a friend "If you don't like the Black Keys, you don't like music"
Random Detail: A couple next to me slow danced like they were at an Usher concert the entire time
By The Way: There was a photo booth in the alley (set up by show sponsor Camel) where people were getting intentionally goofy pictures taken all night
Text by Pat O'Brien