A Completely Unsolicited Review of The Black Keys (and Flaming Lips) Concert

Dan often makes fun of me for my taste in music. I am a rock’n’roll chick, down to my soles. I always have been. Dan was raised on earlier forms of rock: doo-wop and the blues.

And I mean The Blues, Delta *and* Chicago: Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Sonhouse, Sonny Boy Williamson. More than I can name, that’s for sure. He texted me this at the Black Keys concert last night:

“Tomorrow (that is today, May 1) is Little Walter Jacobs‘ birthday. I’m standing at the Black Keys concert with 4-5 drinks in me wondering what Little Walter or Muddy would think of this music.”

I think the bluesmen that Dan idealizes (and rightfully so) would be pleased with their legacy. Isn’t that a saying somewhere: “The blues had a baby and they named it rock and roll”? Dan rides my ass a little bit about the “bluesy rock” I like these days — think 21st century acts like White Stripes and Raconteurs (so, Jack White), The Black Keys, and Americana bands like Lumineers and Mumford & Sons.

But he’s a good sport, and loves live music (and me!), so he was more than happy to take in the Black Keys’ show. I think the Keys’ Auerbach and Carney do their forebears proud.

(The Flaming Lips… Oh, Wayne Coyne, you are wonderfully weird, and I would’ve loved for you to play a little bit longer in your opening set. The eyeball/vagina video was a little freaky, even for someone like me who was expecting freakiness. My brother summed you up so well in this text: “If this guy worked at a gas station, dressed like that, and holding a baby doll, he’d be institutionalized. He’d be awesome, but institutionalized.” Thank God for art school, rock and roll, and America, baby.)

The Black Keys hit it hard from start to finish, even when the beginning of “Little Black Submarines” slowed the pace briefly. They charged right into “Howlin’ for You” and pretty much didn’t let up until the end of their two-song encore. I saw Patrick Carney lose his glasses at least twice.

As Scott Mervis observes in the Post-Gazette (and as I said to my husband last night): Carney is no Neil Peart. I like Carney’s style of drumming: passionate, flailing limbs, pounding the fuck out of his kit. He’s probably one of the least flashy drummers I’ve ever seen.

Dan Auerbach seems to be just as raw sometimes on guitar. After the first few songs, Dan turned to me and said, “That guy would hate this, but he’s a rock and roll star.” By the end of the encore, Dan revised himself: “Nope, I think he totally knows he’s a rock star, and loves it.” Even in jeans and a tee shirt, Auerbach adds a sly showmanship to his bludgeoning guitar licks and strutting.

Highlights of the show for me: When Auerbach shooed Gus Seyffert and John Wood off the stage to launch into a handful of two-man rockers, starting with the power of “Thickfreakness”. “Your Touch” was a pounding, relentless number that recalled the Keys’ roots as a club band. I liked that even in a sold-out arena, Auerbach and Carney were able to capture that early intimacy when it was just the two of them in a bar somewhere in Ohio.

They brought Seyffert and Wood back for “Little Black Submarines”, a tight rendition of the ballad-into-explosive rocker. And while “Ten Cent Pistol” isn’t one of my favorites, the live version blew it out of the water.

The Black Keys faithfully delivered on their big hits, too: “Gold on the Ceiling”, “Tighten Up”, and show closer (before the encore) “Lonely Boy.” While I would’ve loved a four-song encore, this is a minor quibble with a show that satisfied me — well, right down to my soles. Auerbach’s falsetto on “Everlasting Light” was *flawless*, and they poured everything they had into the grand finale “I Got Mine” — one of my personal favs.

Both bands could’ve played longer as far as I was concerned. As I said in my three-word Twitter review: MORE BLACK KEYS. And as I said to Dan as I reluctantly left the Consol Center: “We’ll be seeing them again.”