THE BLACK KEYS GET GRITTY IN BEANTOWN

The Black Keys :: 10.01.04 :: Paradise Rock Club :: Boston, MA

She want a simple life
She need a simple man
Who don't drink or smoke
Play in a rock and roll band.
But she wants you to hold her at night
When she's lonely and blue.

Ain't got no trust in her mother
Ain't got no trust in her daddy
Ain't got no trust in her sister
And she ain't got trust in you.


Dan Auerbach :: 10.01.04
These lines from The Black Keys' "No Trust" might just be the ultimate lyrics in the young band's arsenal of tunes--or at least the definition of its style and substance. Such seemed the case when guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Pat Carney blazed through the song near the end of their set at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. The Black Keys sold-out performance was a highlight of the weekend-long NEMO Music Festival. (NEMO also puts on the Boston Music Awards and an annual "indie" music conference--think toned down, East Coast South by Southwest.)

The duo, touring in support of its latest effort Rubber Factory kicked off the evening with new tune "Stack Shot Billy," a modern-day outlaw anthem concerning guns, murder, and cocaine. While on the topic of drugs (of another sort), Auerbach announced to the eager audience that both he and Carney were extremely ill with the flu and were awaiting antibiotics from their hometown doctor in Ohio. If the boys were sick, it's difficult to imagine what their ultra-energized show would be like had they been healthy.


Dan Auerbach :: 10.01.04
"Grown So Ugly," a Robert Pete Williams cover also off Rubber Factory, showcased Auerbach's vocal chops and conjured images of the gritty, deep-south bluesman who penned the tune. (Williams was discovered in a Louisiana State Penitentiary in the late '50s while serving time for murder and was subsequently pardoned in 1964.) As Auerbach cried out about looking in the mirror and seeing a stranger stare back, the passion and rawness in his voice made it difficult to believe that a skinny, 24-year-old white boy from Akron was belting out the lyrics.

The Keys also dipped heavily into the Thickfreakness archive, their other album also on Mississippi-based Fat Possum Records. In addition to the title track, Auerbach and Carney ripped through Richard Berry's "Have Love Will Travel." On "Set You Free," Auerbach's guitar riffs were deep and infectious, bordering on dark, while he crooned about knight in shining armor syndrome--trying to rescue a woman away from her cheatin' man.


Auerbach & Carney :: 10.01.04
Auerbach definitely has an axe to grind and he does so with a commanding stage presence, his posture oscillating between soldier at attention and rag-doll floppy, guitar strokes exaggerated yet necessary and precise. Carney, long hair defying gravity as he bounces to the beat, frail frame flailing, holds down the structure with his frenetic style on the drums, amply making up for the bass-less aural experience. The Black Keys often come across as an army of musicians, boasting a big, rich sound without being excessively loud and obnoxious.

The twosome can't be classified as a "jam band," as no tune in the blistering 55-minute set topped the five-minute mark. Yet Auerbach does an exceptional job at blending rhythm and lead parts and certainly improvises like a wily veteran within the song structures. Borrowing heavily from the blues, The Black Keys aren't necessarily reinventing the wheel, but their raging, two-man rock 'n' roll take on the genre is refreshing and unique. The pair definitely cooked in Beantown and the gratifying gig was a welcomed departure from the potential pitfalls of jam band monotony.

All Words and Images by: John Smrtic
JamBase | Boston
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[Published on: 10/21/04]

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