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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Crowd a downer at Keys show

    Blues rockers The Black Keys gave a spirited performance, but couldnt rouse a lackluster, inert crowd at The Rialto Theatre on Thursday, March 27.
    Blues rockers The Black Keys gave a spirited performance, but couldn’t rouse a lackluster, inert crowd at The Rialto Theatre on Thursday, March 27.

    Some high-energy bands attract low-key crowds. Hence the problem March 27, as blues-rock duo The Black Keys previewed new tracks from its latest album, Attack and Release, and performed old favorites at The Rialto Theatre.

    Memphis-based garage punk musician Jay Reatard opened for the Keys, eliciting awkward head bobs (was that a possible foot tap on the left side?) from the lackluster audience as he seamlessly flowed from one song into the next, never halting his guitar playing, even when taking swigs from his water bottle. The break-less performance resulted in a short stage time, unfortunately, as Reatard, brilliant bassist Stephen Pope and drummer Billy Hayes (someone in the audience quipped about his resemblance to Dana Carvey) quickly retreated offstage, probably to their relief – aside from a bleach-blonde punk rocker in his 40s who couldn’t seem to contain himself during the show and booked it after Jay Reatard played his set, and another man who mused to someone on the phone about how “”the opening act was totally rockin’, but this is Tucson, not Los Angeles, so no one fucking danced.””

    Crowd lethargy is a common problem during opening acts, but one that generally changes for the headliner. The Black Keys’ strong presence didn’t perk up this crowd though – Dan Auerbach probably could have shaved off all his facial hair and not even the ladies would have been thrilled.

    The Black Keys
    The Rialto Theatre
    3 1/2 stars
    Thursday, March 27

    The duo kicked off their set with “”Same Old Thing,”” off the Danger Mouse-produced Attack and Release. Although Attack sees the band incorporating new instruments and experimenting with different sounds, “”Same Old Thing”” is more like an extension of their former musicality; an expansion and addition to an already grand, full sound.

    “”Girl Is On My Mind”” translated well from the Rubber Factory version to the live performance as Auerbach drawled in the mic with his gravelly voice and drummer Patrick Carney banged away at his drum kit, the two never faltering from their high energy. What did the audience do when hit by this wall of sound? A few bobbed their heads, some applauded and most stood around like peanut butter on celery. Maybe everyone was stoned (see encore), or maybe they were just in awe of the high-caliber performance they were witnessing.

    Regardless of the audience’s state of mind, Auerbach and Carney delivered on track after track, never breaking for chit-chat (aside from Auerbach’s multiple introductions of Carney) as the two performed “”Remember When (Side B)”” off of Attack, and Magic Potion-favorite “”Your Touch.””

    “”Here I Am, I Always Am,”” a cover of proto-punk artist Captain Beefheart’s ’60s song, blended in flawlessly with the Keys’ repertoire, but was similar to the late 1966 Beefheart demo in regard to its gritty tone and strong backbeat.

    Even though the band maintained its energy levels and were arguably better live than on its albums, the shouts for an encore were few and far between, leading to an actual surprise when the duo returned so quickly to the stage (possibly due to the pain endured by listening to the sounds of sparse clapping). While the band launched into “”10 A.M. Automatic”” a group of six individuals obnoxiously pushed their way front-and-center-right only to take flash-blinding photos of the audience from over their heads and smoke up.

    Yes, smoke up. The beautiful live rendition of “”You’re the One”” was scarred for that side of the audience as the potheads decided, “”Hey, we smell like shit. Might as well make everyone else smell bad too!”” The apathy of the Rialto security was equally disappointing; one employee said they were “”understaffed”” and therefore unable to capture the pesky stoners.

    Although both The Black Keys and opener Jay Reatard delivered noteworthy and commendable performances, the lameness of certain crowd members made this show a downer.

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