The Black Keys | 12.02.06

Auerbach's grasping, grainy voice is the stuff that spans generations, and its appeal was never more apparent than on the "Just Got to Be" chorus.



w/Dr. Dog
Mississippi Nights, St. Louis

So, I showed up to the show a half-hour after the opening "show time" (you: say "show" again Dave; Dave: "show") and I was annoyed that Dr. Dog was already halfway through their set. Seriously, who starts on time? I was expecting to wait at least an hour on a backless table in my underwear, but I miscalculated, and it was my loss. The last half of Dr. Dog's performance was excellent. With three-fifths of the Philadelphians in rockin' shades, the five-piece announced my entrance with "Die Die Die," an organ-injected, chain-smoking slurfest highlighted by Toby Leaman's lighthearted sincerity. The self-proclaimed finger bassist crooned, "I don't wanna die in your arms/ I just wanna dieeeeeeeeee," sounding like a mangier Levon Helm. Leaman's unique vocals were also highlighted on "Worst Trip" (both of these songs will be featured on the forthcoming '07 release, We All Belong), which like all Dr. Dog songs, sounds straight out of 1967.

Not to be discounted, though, were the smooth, boyish vocals of guitarist Scott McMicken, who sounded like a certain McBeatle, all while looking like a cold-weather Spicoli. All in all, Dr. Dog was straight-up cool, and their nonchalant style fits their throwback tunes very well. I just hope I show up on time for their (hint hint) headlining U.S. tour that will maybe probably accompany We All Belong's February release. This band may have been born 40 years too late, but let's hope their due recognition won't be quite so delayed.

Akron headliners the Black Keys entered the comfortably packed venue with casual aplomb, sparing no time to bust into the"Black Dog"-esque (see how the world makes sense?) ramblings of their sophomore title track, "Thickfreakness." The bearded, dirty-fingered guitarist Dan Auerbach mixed enthused hops with head-back sways, alternatively crunching and tangling his licks with Patrick Carney's drumming. The latter member of the duo projected the visage of a lanky Schroeder, keeping his head down and his arms up as he frequently crashed his abnormally high cymbals.

The set flew by with a relentless attack of grooves and stompers that consistently blurred the fine line between distorted noise and blaring, blissful blues. New tracks from the recently released Magic Potion proved to be as tight and weathered as any Black Keys affair, noted primarily by the rapid-fire, unorthodox timing of "Just Got to Be." Auerbach's grasping, grainy voice is the stuff that spans generations, and its appeal was never more apparent than on that song's chorus, as he filled the spaces with a little soul as he sang, "And I won't get-a better, no matter how hard I try."

Perhaps the true highlight of the night, though, was the cover of Richard Berry's "Have Love, Will Travel," which the Black Keys truly made their own. A soaring lead dug deep into the fibers of each of Carney's downbeats, pausing for the gentle verses before erupting again and again, each time with no less satisfaction. Outside of an arguably early finish to the night, the combination of these two bands was all anyone should expect from a good rock show, whether they are young, old, or some sort of pan-generational hybrid (but that's just ridiculous). | David Jasmon

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