The Black Keys: Akron, OH

I'm going to keep this short, as I must go to work.

As a 22 year old, I lived in San Diego, CA. I tend to re-tell stories, both in person & in text, so forgive me if I've told this one before:

Walking around M Theory Music with my friends, The Black Keys "The Big Come Up" was blaring from the speakers and I bought it...

Me: What is this?

clerk: The Black Keys

Me: Sold.

Lucky for us, they were playing San Diego shortly after that, at the Casbah...a very small venue. Har Mar Superstar was opening. If you don't know Har Mar, picture Jon Lovitz meets Joe Dirt with a voice like Stevie Wonder. It was an insane show, and he was actually amazing, but in a strange way. Like, strip-down-to-tightie-whities-and-flaunt-his-sloppy-ass-in-front-of-our-friends-face, strange.

The Casbah hardly had a stage, in my memory. Maybe 6 inches off the ground? Maybe a foot or two? either way, we were right up front for The Black Keys, and it was loud, and I remember Dan Auerbach being right in front of me, almost at eye level. The show was insane. The songs were raunchy, raw, bluesy and his voice was intense. I was very happy.

Since 2002, they've only become bigger and better. Playing bigger venues, and working with bigger acts (ie: tonights opening slot for Pearl Jam at MSG.) Last night, however, they played "Live From Home- The Black Keys @ The Housing Works Bookstore Cafe" to benefit AIDS & Homelessness. Thanks to my lovely, generous and insanely attractive girlfriend, I was able to attend this show. It might be my love for particular bands. Maybe it's my love for a cool concert poster. Or maybe it's just that she knows I have a certain, deep nostalgia for my time in San Diego, and somehow this would bring that full circle...or maybe she just likes to see me happy...either way...what an amazing show, I haven't been able to see them in such an intimate space since 2002.

What's wonderful, about this bands particular moment in time, is that they still don't have a hit. So the "hit's" to us, aren't played out, they're just our favorites. When they launch into "Your Touch" or "Strange Times," we goes nuts and the song kills, and the heads bob, and the bodies jerk...but the smile on my face becomes giant when the raunch, that is the intro to "The Breaks," begins. Those songs hold pretty heavy meaning for me, and to hear this band, obviously more educated, and on top of their game go back to the origins of their career in such great form, was a stress relieving moment.  If I had to assign a smell to "The Big Come Up" it would be my 1995 Saturn, my wetsuit, and surf wax (you didn't need to know that, but i thought it was important enough to edit the post and put it in.)

For the first time, EVER, they performed tracks from the new record "Brothers" last night. With the addition of bass & keys (also a first?)  they ran through "Next Girl," "Howlin' For You," "Tighten Up," & "Ten Cent Pistol" at least as far as I can remember, and they hit them SPOT ...ON.

It was a special evening, complete with PBR, a couple of unnecessary purchases (albums I already own, but now on Vinyl,) and a cool new poster. To top it off, Housing Works has a small selection of used vinyl where I found an authentic Louis Armstrong Columbia Recording for $5...thank you very much.

If my record comes close to touching what The Black Keys touch on, I'll be a satisfied man, and don't worry Owl City, I'll own up to my influences.

In closing, go see The Black Keys if you get a chance, buy their new album "Brothers", eat cookies, don't smoke in the car, support M Theory Music if you're in San Diego & enjoy the nice weather if you're in NYC right now.

Peace.

-M

P.S. - By the way, listening to "The Big Come Up" on Vinyl, this alternate version of "She Said, She Said" is the bees knees.