Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Concert Review: The Black Keys at the Fox Theater, Oakland, CA

Saturday marked my first visit to the newly renovated Fox Theater in Oakland. I had heard the venue compared to the Fillmore, and its classy interior does somewhat recall the legendary San Francisco venue. Its massive size and classic decor resemble its neighbor the Paramount more than anything, however. Part of my interest in going to see The Black Keys was to get a nice look at this theater, and the other reason was, well, to see the Black Keys.

While the Black Keys are a two-man band, their latest Danger Mouse-produced release, Attack and Release, thrives on a sound that is bigger than the two of them. A departure from a raw, garage sound, the album benefits from bigger production and extra instrumentation. Thus, it is kind of both a blessing and a curse that for their live set, only guitarist/singer Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney stroll onto the stage. Curse because it is difficult to recreate that sound between two people, but blessing because there is something extremely authentic about the huge sound they are able to make between just the two of them.

The musicianship is phenomenal - Auerbach's guitar chops are exceptional, creating an amazing full band sound. Carney thumps away at the drums, keeping up the rhythm and the energy. Rarely breaking from banter, the band powered through a set that was heavy on new songs. Unfortunately, Auerbach's vocals were barely audible in the theater, so while appreciating the musicianship was easy, making out the words was not.

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