By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
Photo by Matt OttoBLACK KEYS
GALAXY CONCERT THEATRE, SANTA ANA
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 21
The guy from Connecticut in line said he'd just found out about this show—and was he glad! He'd seen the White Stripes the other night, somewhere, and Jack White, with face painted white for thematic reasons, kept ducking offstage and fuckin' up the flow. That, the guy said, was no way to play a rock & roll show.
When they arrived before a packed Galaxy Theatre audience, the Black Keys—two guys from the state that gave you Devo and Dead Boys [Editor's note: and the Electric Eels!]—did not disappoint Stripes fans and those of us who remembered this setup when it was Flat Duo Jets, or the Bukka White appreciation society, or even the Stripes five years ago. This was what we needed after scattered openers SSM and Madman Moon: a polite hello, and straight into the heavy blues; ballistic 12-bar excursions that dragged the mid-'50s Chess catalog lightly through Zeppelin.
It was instantly steamy stuff even outside the pit—Dan Auerbach flinging himself and his Telecaster anywhere the cord would reach the Marshall stack, Patrick Carney flailing away stage left on a full kit—and if you had to ask why it made your pulse race, you were clearly clinically dead. Carney didn't stop beating the whole time, and when they finally went offstage, his gray T-shirt was two-toned with sweat down the back.
Like Dexter Romweber, Auerbach plays bass and melody at once, making one Fender sound like three. Joined at the hip with airtight changes so hard they made the hair on your face wave back, he and Carney were unstoppable, and the people down front eventually exploded. Some guy they guessed later was Carney's brother crowd-surfed until they dropped him and he flipped. Security was unimpressed, but every other guy in the place clapped his hands over his head or bobbed up and down when Auerbach sang the rhetorical "Do you love me like I love you?" as if this were the Stooges or something.
Which it sort of was. Everything is the Stooges. Black Keys sold their cover of "Have Love Will Travel" to Range Rover, so of course they played it, the Stooges' "No Fun" and the Beatles' "She Said She Said" on the encore, and it all made sense if it didn't before. So many White Strokes later—the "band" on my friend's mash-up T-shirt before he saw the light—this is still where it lives. Two men (we'd accept a woman), no trumpet and no drum machine. Just rock, pure and simple and loud.