TVD Live: The Black Keys at the Verizon Center, 3/9

Readers, I have a confession: I have a Black Keys bias.

As a born-and-bred Ohioan, I have been a fan of these native Akronites for a good number of years now and have been rooting for them to do well. (I certainly can’t root for any Ohio sports teams; the Browns, Bengals, Reds, and Indians have all been in a perpetual “rebuilding year” since before my birth.) With their recent Rolling Stone magazine cover and now with this arena tour, which brought them to the Verizon Center last Friday, it appears Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney have in fact “made it.”

As is the case with fashion, music, or any kind of art, we the fans tend to like things that aren’t completely original ideas but in fact a fresh take on something old. That is a concept that the Black Keys have mastered with their fuzz heavy, guitar-driven, Midwest rock and roll. While their music is entirely derived on past epics like Led Zeppelin, The Who, and The Stones, a Black Keys song is still very much theirs, and theirs alone.

Onstage at the Verizon Center, Carney and Auerbach had a little help from some supporting players for roughly half the set, but for many songs they played as their original dynamic duo, evoking the “how do just two people make all of that noise?!” thought that I usually reserve for much heavier, tw0-piece metal bands like Jucifer and Dark Castle. Just a duo, The Black Keys filled that arena with rock and appeared very comfortable in such an overwhelming setting, despite it being a fairly new one for them.

The set’s special effects also contributed to their All-American image, for as they blasted tracks like “Dead and Gone,” “Your Touch,” and new album El Camino‘s opening track “Lonely Boy,” images of bustling people, a car driving down a winding desert road, and magnified shadows of Carney and Auerbach pounding on the drums and wailing on guitar moved in a fast-paced motion behind them on multiple large screens; the only way this set-up could have looked more like a ’60s era Ford commercial was if there had been a busty girl bouncing around in an American flag bikini.

For their encore, the band lowered over the stage an extremely large disco ball that shimmered colors over everyone in the audience as they began to play “Everlasting Light” to an eruption of cheers. As a lead singer, Auerbach isn’t one for much chatting, so the band played song after song for nearly a solid two hours with little pause. As they began their last song and lowered the large, lit-up “THE BLACK KEYS” sign that has accompanied them on most of their recent tour dates,  the excess of flashing light bulbs weren’t the only things glowing, as fans delighted in a great performance.

Photos by Erica Bruce

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