The Black Keys thrill with dynamic performance at Honda Center
Courtesy | press.warnerbrosrecords.com
On Monday night, the best thing to do in Anaheim wasn’t go to Disneyland. This was no night for a visit to the happiest place on earth, at least not for the suburbanite hipsters peopling both Orange and Los Angeles Counties. When the sun set on Monday, those in skinny jeans — those who still believed in rock ‘n’ roll — were ready to do one thing: sing the blues. The Honda Center was briefly transformed into a congregation of howling wolves, fronted and led by today’s eminent rockers, The Black Keys.
Both the Keys and their opening act were full of energy
The band got their start in Akron, Ohio and their meteoric rise has shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Patrick Carney brought the beats, the simplistic percussion that hit like a heart just broken. Dan Auerbach was and remains a man who makes his fretboard cry, wail and scream whenever and whatever he wants it to. Albums like “Thickfreakness” and “Rubber Factory” solidified their street cred, their rough-and-tumble barnstorm sound. When it comes to LPs like “Attack and Release,” “Brothers” and the recent masterpiece, “El Camino,” you’ll find a band both instantly accessible and entirely unrelenting.
Opening for The Keys were Tegan and Sara, New Wave revivalists, dance-punk purveyors and identical twin girls from Canada. Their names may conjure up familiarity for some, but they were an entirely new specimen to this writer. I was taken aback by their energetic guitar assaults and on-stage charm. The sisters possess all the vitriolic angst of a young Elvis Costello and it comes out beautifully in their edgy, punk mambas. You couldn’t help but dance yourself clean as the girls on stage prepped the crowd for the sludgy, garage-variety blues soon to follow.
The Black Keys came out like icons, a hyperbolic title they’re quickly living up to. Auerbach’s beard, coupled with denim jacket and requisite coolness, and Carney’s retro-framed glasses seem to stand out in the same way an old king’s scepter might have. As they took the stage and ripped into the old hit “Howlin’ for You” the crowd was as rapt as a crowd of Baptists at a revival. For all their youthful exuberance, the Keys are old souls and they command the crowd with every riff and snare hit. There’s something almost thirst quenching about thousands of people shouting out the lovestruck, angry and honest lyrics these guys are laying down. In a world of vapid pop hits, their sound is rooted in traditionalism while remaining new, refreshing and even spooky at times.
The blues was meant to be danced and sung
Highlights of the show are hard to distill. The whole set list was intent on keeping every audience member on their feet, clapping their hands together until they were chapped and bleeding. Still, I couldn’t help but think the entire show was one of rising action building up to the climax of “Lonely Boy.” The first song on “El Camino” was delivered with more gusto than I’ve ever seen in a live show. The encore resolved all tension and angst with “Everlasting Light.” A giant disco ball dropped to light up the entire arena and you could feel the happiness all around. “I Got Mine” finished out the concert and the jam ensured their recommendation to the annals of rock ‘n’ roll history. They know what they’re doing.
It wasn’t without flaws. Upbeat they certainly are, but sometimes to excess. Many times, the band fell out of time, suggesting a metronome as a potential third member. But it really didn’t matter at the end of the day. We rocked with the greatest bluesmen of our generation. Who could ask for more?