Alright, let’s establish a couple of things first. I have a thing for two pieces. I have a big thing for Junior Kimbrough. And I increasingly have a thing for Midwesterners. Does this affect my ability to impartially judge the quality of the Black Keys? Perhaps, but that doesn’t change the fact that they put on one of the most incendiary live rock shows of any band out there. And I’m not the only one in that camp. Last Wednesday night, the Black Keys sold out Irving Plaza and last night they played to a packed room at Warsaw in Brooklyn.
Blazing through covers and tracks off The Moan, The Big Come Up, Thickfreakness and Rubber Factory, the Black Keys had a room full of Brooklyn hipsters, Blues fans, kids who looked like they stole their big brothers’ fake ID to get in and a handful of people who knew who gravel-throated opener, label mate Nathaniel Mayer was singing along. Thickfreakness remains my most spun Black Keys record. The title track, “Hard Row,” “Have Love Will Travel” and “Set You Free” are undoubtedly some of the sexiest, primitive (in the most complementary way possible) songs produced in the first half of the 2000s. Hearing that voice come out of Dan Auerbach while watching him become completely transformed while singing “Do the Romp” or “Everywhere I Go” (both Kimbrough covers) and matching his voice perfectly with his blazing guitar lines is one of my favorite rock experiences. Every once in a while I had to remind myself to tear my eyes away from Auerbach to watch Patrick Carney tower over his drum kit, glasses off, hair in his face, creating a shambolic racket with a maraca in one hand and a stick in another.
The Black Keys are a dream. In a world full of bands who half-ass their way through a show, or worse an entire record, the Black Keys remain committed to the tradition they so clearly respect and perform in the spirit of. Wrapping up the night with one of my favorite covers, The Stooges’ “No Fun,” I turned to my friend, shook my head and smiled. I’ve seen the Black Keys a ridiculous amount of times and they still perform as if their lives depended on it. Thanks Black Keys. See you next time.