The Black Keys Album Release at Webster Hall [12/5/11]

Posted on: December 7th, 2011 at 10:18 am by

The Black Keys played Webster Hall for a secret El Camino release party Monday night. We were there.

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When we approached Webster Hall Monday night to see The Black Keys, we honestly had no way of getting in. The show was billed as an El Camino album release party, with details kept tightly under wraps by the sponsor Southern Comfort. Only 400 tickets were given to the public, and the last minute announcement caused a major stir on Delancey street, leaving many superfans empty handed. But we were determined to get in. We weren’t sure how, but we knew it would happen. Chuck Klosterman turned us down as his +1, as did Danger Mouse, who produced this Black Keys album as well as 2008’s Attack and Release. In a strike of fate, Rob from Warner Music happily hooked the Boogie up with some coveted spots, and we were forever grateful.

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The show started promptly at 9 with a simulcast on MTV. The Black Keys ripped open with their ubiquitously advertised jingle “Howlin’ For You.” It was a mellow start for what was meant to be an incredibly intimate show between the Black Keys, 400 local fans, and 800 close friends of the band. The Black Keys have grown accustomed to playing slightly larger venues these days, and last week they announced a North American arena tour to support the new record. The effort, out today on Nonesuch records, has some songs that can easily settle into a packed arena, and it marks the latest stop on a journey of a band that has never been afraid to do things the old fashioned way. The duo of drummer Patrick Carney and guitarist Dan Auerbach spent their early years logging thousands of miles in their tour van, schlepping equipment from gig to gig while recording some honest and appealing bluesy garage rock output. They’ve obviously moved out of the garage.

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Monday’s set was laced with some of the new stuff, including “Sister,” “Gold on The Ceiling,” “Run Right Back,” and their single “Lonely Boy.” They saved the latter until right near the end of the set, unleashing it to the delight of the dance crazed audience. Keeping the momentum going, they closed up shop with a searing “Tighten Up,” now even more tightened up now that they’ve added 2 musicians to their touring ensemble. The short but sweet show ended with an encore of “I Get Mine.”

Like the White Stripes before them, The Black Keys are being hailed as the current generation’s saviors of classic, bluesy rock. They’re not hesitant to get down and dirty, and their journey shows it. Although some fans are calling this period their “cashing in” era, diehards are still willing to pony up $150+  on craigslist (for $0 tickets, ‘natch) to see them pack a club and blow some minds. They still keep the same balls-to-the-wall style of playing as they did for their entire career. Their freaking El Camino was parked outside of the venue (!!) hawking t shirts with simple iconic Black Keys type font: “I saw the Black Keys live at Webster Hall 12-5-2011”

The show was suited for its audience: a mixture of diehards who successfully hunted down their ducats, press eager to hear the new stuff, and industry type. (Chuck Klosterman AND Danger Mouse). Auerbach and Carney were on top of their game: Carney aggressively beating the shit out of his drums, and Aurbach’s fantastic vocals moving over the beats as the duo sped up and slowed down songs at whim. “10 Cent Pistol” had an extended jam session. “Everlasting Light” was just downright sexy as hell. Everybody sang the chorus to “Lonely Boy”. These guys are at their peak, with an arena tour on the horizon. While it remains to be seen how a band notorious for its relatively intimate shows will settle into a behemoth like MSG, we do know one thing: the boys will kick ass.  Just like our tickets for this show, we’re not sure how it’ll happen, but we know it will.

Writeup and photos by Benjamin Tocker

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