The Black Keys Sell Out

July 29th, 2010

The Black Keys – Terminal 5 – July 28, 2010

The Black Keys - Terminal 5 - July 28, 2010
Historically any musical innovation has come from a hybridization of styles. In the case of the Black Keys, they’ve taken their love of the bare-bones sound of drums and an electric guitar and traced its origins all the way back to the Delta blues, then combined it with a variety of influences like Link Wray and Wu-Tang among others, eventually collaborating with Mos Def and Q-Tip on the rap-rock album Blakroc. Longtime friends since high school, guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney didn’t necessarily set out to pioneer a unique sound. They took elements from the music they grew up with and added tried-and-true classic-rock screaming distortion.

The Black Keys played three sold-out show in two days, and they headlined Terminal 5 last night, having just left Central Park’s SummerStage a few hours before, not that it showed in their performance. The stage show was as stripped down as the duo—although they played their new material as a foursome, adding keys and bass to the mix—no lasers or elaborate lights, just a huge drum kit stage right, a stack of amps behind Auerbach and a huge banner of two black hands clasped together inside a tire, a reference to their recent album, Brothers, and even Auerbach and Carney’s personal connection, at the back of the stage.

The Keys played their Zeppelin-referenced blues with big crunchy distortion guitar that became another voice alongside Auerbach’s eerie Hendrix-like vocals, which are as equally at home delivering hushed falsetto on “The Lengths” as getting the Led out on “10 A.M. Automatic.” Hardly pausing between songs, they seemed to be taking their Ohio Midwestern work ethic to heart onstage, delivering on the promise of two friends getting to do what they sincerely love: Brothers in riff-heavy blues rock. —Jason Dean

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood |