Review: The Black Keys @ Staples Center

Photo by Joseph Gonzales

The duo “surpassed expectations” Saturday night at the Staples Center.

[By Jaclyn Gonzales]

The stage is darkened; the cheers from excitement and anticipation from the crowd builds and is overwhelming.  The Black Keys, the blues-rock duo and natives of Akron, Ohio consisting of Dan Auerbach, vocals and guitar, and Patrick Carney, drums, takes the stage. Carney gets comfortable, picks up his drumsticks and begins his intro drum beat, followed by Auerbach bobbing his head to it and strumming that recognizable guitar riff for “Howlin’ For You,” the ecstatic audiences roars with excitement and The Black Keys are off. The intoxicating energy from the 90 minute, 20 song set did not let up. They showed up and surpassed expectations doing what they do best, providing a true rock and roll show, with the audience participating singing along to lyrics and fists raised pounding to the music. It’s easy to hear their blues influence with the heaviness of the electric guitar riffs, howling the words, complemented with feverishly played drums.  Auerbach and Carney performed as a duo sans the backup musicians for a few songs which proved the live performance definitely showcases their talents with great howling lead vocal strength and relentless instrumentation played with passionate force accompanied by thrashing drums. Fans were definitely not disappointed, singing along to radio hits such as “Lonely Boy,” “Tighten Up” and “Gold on the Ceiling,” to name a few, as well as the older heavier bluesy inspired songs “I Got Mine” and “Strange Times.”

The Black Keys focus and concentrate in the zone of the music, playing as if they are in a small venue and at times seem somewhat oblivious to the large arena crowd hollering with each song. Auerbach doesn’t engage the audience much except to introduce the band and a humbled thank you every so often, but the energy given out with each strum of the guitar and bashing of the drums seems to speak louder than words which provide a deeper connection to the audience. Carney concentrating on beating, almost trying to beat the drums to a pulp, adamantly and feverishly strikes it.

Photo by Danny Clinch

Half way through the set they sing their newest single “Little Black Submarines,” a Led Zeppelin sounding tune infused with Tom Petty guitar sounds. The audience is silenced as Auerbach sings the hushed lyrics and reaches the end of the chorus and pauses; the stage goes dark and the song begins again picking up speed with the full band contributing, letting out that heavy rock vibe which is complemented with the strobe lights flashing in sync with the drumbeat.

A no fuss band, they are minimalists with the stage production, no extra flair but a simple large screen with random images, although they have great lighting with moody hues, but their fervor is enough to hold the audience’s attention. During the first encore song “Everlasting Light,” a huge disco ball illuminates the entire singing audience in the arena with speckled dots of light that changes with the mood of the song.

After performing Friday night, this was a great way to end the two-date Staples Center Shows. They were upbeat and gave it their all and didn’t seem the least bit exhausted. Their energy was electric and an exciting show for a Saturday night in Downtown Los Angeles.

Their opening act was Tegan and Sara, a Canadian Indie band made up of twin sisters; they performed a 45 minute set with catchy melodic songs infused with hints of techno beats. At one point during “Back In Your Head” they stopped mid song to point out a fight in the audience, joked about it and after the person was escorted out, they began the song again as if nothing had happened.  Beside this, the night was exciting with two bands doing what they do best, putting on a great rock and roll show.  ~

Additional Tour Dates:

October 8, 2012 – 8:00 pm Honda Center, Anaheim, CA

October 9, 2012 – 8:00 pm US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

October 10, 2012 – 8:00 pm Pan American Center, Las Cruces, NM

October 12, 2012 – 8:30 pm Zilker Park, Austin, TX

October 14, 2012 Curva 4 del Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City

October 21, 2012 – 7:00 pm Newcastle Entertainment Centre, Broadmeadow, Australia

October 22, 2012 – 8:15 pm Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney, Australia

October 23, 2012 – 8:15 pm Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney, Australia