I almost don’t want to write about The Black Keys, their sixth album, Brothers, and the show they put on last night at Toronto’s KoolHaus. I almost don’t want to write about them because I cannot be objective and I also do not think anything I could write could possibly capture just how good vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer/producer Patrick Carney are on stage. But, I’ll give it a shot.
The Black Keys played two back-to-back sold out shows, and for good reason, they are one of those bands that sound just as good live (possibly better) as they do on the studio album. They are not over-produced, they do not have fancy bells and whistles, there is no auto-tune, they are just damn good by themselves.
There is passion in Auerbach’s voice that is equally matched by the way Carney bashes his kit. It is mesmerizing to watch and hear. The night was once again thick with heat in Toronto and the stage lights were unforgiving, soaking the duo in hot light and sweat. But they didn’t seem to mind as they blasted out raw and soulful blues-infused rock that the audience simply could not get enough of. But Auerbach and Carney don’t get so lost in their music that they can’t see what is going on around them.
At last night’s show Auerbach stopped singing early in the set, walked over to Carney , who then also stopped playing. Auerbach walked back to his mic stand and berated a group of unruly guys who didn’t know how to behave in public.
“You guys got to act like you have been around girls before. You’re acting like a couple of drunk frat boys. You got to chill out alright. ‘Cuz you are fucking this up for me,” began Auerbach as he told them to smarten up or he would get security to throw them out. He refused to continue playing Stack Shot Billy and let the rest of us know we could blame the guys in the front. To which the crowd booed, but cheered Auerbach for saying, “Don’t push girls. I saw what you did there. I saw what you did to that girl in front of you.”
Not only do this duo from Akron Ohio make some of the best music around, it appears their mothers also raised them right. The Black Keys got 100 bonus points for that, not that they needed them.
While watching the band intently I couldn’t help but think and smile at the aptness of the lyric “Fuck the white ones, The Black Keys got so much soul,” from Blakroc‘s Dollaz & Sense track featuring RZA & Pharoahe Monch.
For those of you that don’t know, Blakroc is an album The Black Keys made with legendary hip-hop heavyweight Damon Dash–who is also a self-professed The Black Keys fan. Dash and The Keys worked with 11 of hip hops most influential artists, including Mos Def, Q-Tip, and Jim Jones. The album was released on Black Friday of 2009. It is impeccably crafted often plays on repeat through my headphones. And luckily for us The Black Keys are currently working on another Blakroc album with guests including Chicago-based hip hop duo The Cool Kids and Jay Electronica among others. Here is a little bit of the story…
But back to the show, some of the night’s highlight tracks included the first single off the new Brothers album, “Tighten Up,” as well as “Howlin’ For You,” “Everlasting Light,” “She’s Long Gone” and “Ten Cent Pistol.” The boys also played crowd favourites “I Got Mine” and “Strange Times” among a gaggle of other gritty and thoroughly enjoyable tunes.
It was a night that was pretty close to musical perfection, and with videos like this one for Tighten Up how can you not fall in love with The Black Keys?
The only thing missing from the show was my one of my personal favourite songs from the band’s 2008, fifth album, Attack & Release, “Lies.” Maybe next time…For now I will leave you with the first few lines: “You said the moon was ours, to hell with the day, the sunlight is only going to take love away.”
- The Big Come Up (2002)
- Thickfreakness (2003)
- The Moan EP (2004)
- Rubber Factory (2004)
- Chulahoma (2006)
- Magic Potion (2006)
- Attack & Release (2008)
- Brothers (2010)
- Collaboration albums
- Blakroc (2009)