The Black Keys were slow to grow on me. For the last five years I've heard the muted hype surrounding them, but it wasn't until last year's album Brothers that I really gave in to their genius. At least I was primed in time for when the John Labatt Centre's Twitter feed announced1 that they were looking for internet-savvy people to go see the Keys' show and review it. I was all like HEY, pick me, I review crap all the time, and the JLC was all like, OKAY.
Three other reviewers joined me: Laura, Naomi, and Amanda.
A few of us got to go see Cage the Elephant (the opening act) in a private little acoustic set yesterday afternoon.
There is something awkward about a high-energy dude like Matthew Shultz screaming his lungs out in front of a politely-sitting audience of 15 people. But they held up in acoustic form, and it was awesome shaking hands with the band I'd see rocking the shit out of thousands of people a few hours later.
You can see a bit of the performance on FM96's site (with a few shots of my shiny head!).
At the show that night, Cage the Elephant not only sounded heavier than the acoustic set, but heavier than anything on their albums. I think electric and live is what they're made for. It'd be hard not to enjoy it when Shultz was so into it, flailing around and stage diving like a kid at his first rock concert.
Everyone was sufficiently pumped for the Black Keys, then, and they obviously didn't disappoint.
Their music is visceral. You feel like you gotta be moving to it, whether it's driving down a shimmery-hot road with the windows down, screwing, or crowd surfing, as many people did at the show even though it's not the type of music you'd usually mosh to. The sound guy couldn't help moving to it:
It's hard to believe that such rich sound came out of two dudes; so much so that it was barely noticeable when a full band joined them on stage.
As they proclaimed their final song, a sign behind them lit up the words "Black Keys" (finally alleviating the confusion for everyone who came for the Black Eyed Peas), like the title of a movie popping up at the end instead of the beginning. But of course, they wouldn't waste such a sweet sign on one song, so the crowd chanted "black! keys!" in unison with the lights until they came for the encore. Even after that, they left us wanting more.
Thanks to Chris at the JLC for the tickets (and for the beer/food vouchers on top of that, which were enough to get drunk and buy 3 boxes of chocolate), to FM96 for the pre-show show, and to my fellow reviewers (and Shawn and Ed) for an awesome time. This sort of semi-natural engagement with fans via Twitter and other social media is the future of hyping events and organizations; even if we were just a promotional tools, it's good to be a part of it.
Oh and check out Naomi's review of the show here.
1 Which my sister Andrea alerted me to. Thanks sister!