The packed Friday night young crowd at the Marquee Theatre wasn’t your typical low-key Black Keys club show of old, especially impressive considering the Tempe Musical Festival and My Chemical Romance were playing simultaneously a quarter mile across Tempe Town Lake. However, 2008 already appears to be the year of the Black Keys, whether the lo-fi Akron duo likes it or not.
Maybe it was the hype surrounding their new album, the Danger Mouse produced Atttack & Release, or Rod Stewart recently name dropping the Keys as future possible collaborators, or Thom Yorke and Robert Plant outing themselves as fans of the band. Whatever the way of the buzz, it’s obvious the rust belt rockers’ stripped-down sound was punching its rewards. Not bad for a band whose debut was recorded in a basement with $18 Radio Shack microphones, and their follow-up was completed in a former tire factory.
Although many of their compositions sounds close to an 80’s MGD beer commercial (check "10 A.M. Automatic, " "Set You Free") minus the “Green Onions,” The Black Keys are blues “rawk” revivalists with a white boy punk flair. Dan Auerbach (guitars, vocals), although only 28, credits Junior Kimbrough and Robert Johnson as major influences, counts off familiar blues riffs using an index finger fingerpick along with his thumb to play chords. But their lo-fi sound sticks counterclockwise to the often compared White Stripes courtesy of Patrick Carney’s primal drum-beat and timely bass drum.
Playing about half the songs off Attack & Release, the duo didn’t stray far from their garage rock formula , with the best responses being generated from old standbys “Thickfreakness,” Set You Free” and “10 A.M. Automatic.” Auerbach even let the guitar hang from his back for a song while he played keyboard for a song, mimicking his buzzing guitar riffs on the keys.
It’s easy to complain that the Keys should play a little bit longer….after 70 minutes they were hitting that peak. But although the show was short with little stage banter, their bygone swamped up rock still knocks em dead loud & live.
Same Old Thing, Girl Is On My Mind, Set You Free, Thickfreakness, Stack Shot Billy, Busted, You’re The One, Remember When (side b), Strange Times, Oceans & Streams, Here I Am I Always Am, No Trust, I Got Mine
All You Ever Wanted, 10am Automatic, Till I Get My Way