The Black Keys | 12.02.06

prev_black-keys_smAs live performers, the Black Keys animate underlying agony and passions with loose, rolling buzz, revealing a magnetic energy that'll transform your head into static.


w/Dr. Dog
at Mississippi Nights, St. Louis
8 p.m.
| all ages
TIX: $17
| Buy tickets

prev_black-keysOnly four years ago, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney were cutting grass for a slumlord in Akron, Ohio. Now, the sweat, bees, and trimming are history, replaced by raw emotion, the buzz of Auerbach's licks, and a sharp sensibility appointed only to those who understand why the notes are being played. the Black Keys, they of genre apologies have swung their brand of electric Delta blues—accompanied by the fist-pounding beats of Carney—into a success rare and unfamiliar to most lawn-boys. Beginning with 2002's The Big Come Up (a backwards demo slip into a record deal), the band has churned out a total of four full-length albums, including the recently released Magic Potion (an impressive EP of Junior Kimbrough covers was also released this year).

Merely a two-piece outfit, the Black Keys have no problem projecting an intensely rugged sound. Auerbach's grainy, soulful yowl lies at the forefront of a feedback arsenal, and his finger-jammed, turned-up-to-11 rocking requires no more assistance than Carney's wind-up-monkey on steroids drumming. Choosing to record in simplistic fashion (i.e., inside an abandoned, eponymous tire factory…or with microphones dangling in Carney's basement), the duo has adopted an enduringly personal appeal. The nature of their records is a reminder to modern, blues-influenced bands that the nature of the beast requires an understanding of how this particular brand of music got to where it is today. A humble pairing, Auerbach and Carney seem to take everything in stride, refusing to compromise their instincts for the sake of a stretched audience. Instead, glowing endorsements from artists such as Thom Yorke (who personally requested the Black Keys for an opening act this past year) have piggybacked critical acclaim to ensure that the band will be an inner-ear damaging force for years to come.

As live performers, the Black Keys animate underlying agony and passions with loose, rolling buzz, revealing a magnetic energy that'll transform your head into static. Although their new album is their first consisting entirely of originals, it's important not to forget the band's ability to craft covers to fit their own style, redefining classics such as the Kinks "Act Nice and Gentle." Brazenly tender, the Black Keys can make you see your breath on days when hot air distorts the horizon, and asphalt sticks to your feet.

prev_dr-dogPennsylvania-based Dr. Dog has been through some personnel transformations over the years, but seem to have settled with their current five-piece arrangement. Led by the dueling vocals of bassist Toby Leaman and lead guitarist Scott McMicken, the band could easily be mistaken for a Joe Cocker-fronted poor man's Beatles (sorry for using the "B" word, all you [cough] pretentious devotees). The band's original focus-a more acidic approach to the sounds of the '60s-has taken a Ween-esque turn for the listenable with their early-2007 release We All Belong. Tack this onto a head-turning tour with My Morning Jacket a couple of years back and you've got a band with a lot less obstacles and a growing fan base.

Even as they refuse to turn their obvious influences into a more modern sound, Dr. Dog remains highly accessible as honest lyricists, and even more honest singers. McMicken and Leaman are both endearing as respective soul men and sweet crooners, allowing their imperfections to highlight the emotion in their words, rather than allow them to be masked for purity's sake. Rather, the purity of Dr. Dog lies in their respect for their predecessors, singing "We've got old news/ Wrapped up in old blues," on the forthcoming album's opener. They also give the Beach Boys a nod with lyrics reminiscent of "Sloop John B," harmonizing the question, "Is this the worst trip/ That you've ever been on?" It's clear Dr. Dog has disjointed their minds from the present era, and it definitely benefits the listener to do the same. | David Jasmon


On tour thru 12/17: 11/27: Madison, WI | The Majestic Theatre; 11/28: Milwaukee, WI | The Rave; 11/29: Minneapolis, MN | First Avenue; 11/30: Omaha, NE | Sokol Auditorium; 12/1: Lawrence, KS | Granada; 12/2: St. Louis, MO | Mississippi Nights; 12/3: Columbia, MO | The Blue Note; 12/5: Tulsa, OK | Cain's Ballroom; 12/7: Oklahoma City, OK | Brickland Ballroom; 12/8: Dallas, TX | Granada Theatre; 12/9: Austin, TX | La Zona Rosa; 12/10: Houston, TX | Numbers Night Club; 12/12: New Orleans, LA | House of Blues; 12/13 Birmingham, AL | Workplay; 12/14: Memphis, TN | Young Ave. Deli; 12/15: Nashville, TN | Mercy Lounge; 12/16: Indianapolis, IN | The Vogue; 12/17: Detroit, MI | The Majestic Theatre.

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