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Concert Review: The Black Keys at Scotiabank Arena (10/09/19)

There’s a great advertising campaign currently going on in Toronto for the “No Name” brand of grocery products, characterized by their plain yellow packaging and self-deprecatingly straightforward descriptions.

It’s oddly appropriate that The Black Keys would be in town at the same time following a multi-year reassessing hiatus. Because of the rock genre’s perceived dearth in the 2010s, the band Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney grew out of an Ohio basement became one of the biggest and best in the world by walking a fine line between invoking excesses from the past while staying true to their bluesy 2-piece origins. Lean, mean and no nonsense, stripped of gaudy frills (well, except for a pretty sweet light and video show), these are The Black Keys alt-rock radio became smitten over; even though they have more money than god thanks to all those spins of “Little Black Submarines” and “Loney Boy”, I would love to ask them what No Name items they would stock their pantries with.

Four years might not sound like a long time since The Black Keys last played Toronto, but put it this way: Donald Trump wasn’t president yet. Feels like forever now, doesn’t it? Politics were not on Auerbach and Carney’s agenda as the tag team returned to the same lakeshore grounds they’ve stomped on multiple times previously. Guitar-and-drum-fundamental rock is the only thing on their minds these days. ‘Let’s Rock’ to be even more blunt, the name of The Black Keys’ comeback album and subsequent supporting tour.

Electrifyingly amazing poster by Toronto artist @milestsang

The title apparently comes from a death row prisoner’s last words before being executed, which were punctuated by visuals of a sizzling electric chair during the encore…an encore that came all too fast as the ‘Keys ripped through a tight 90-minute, 21-song set like a bolt of lightning careening off of the tip of our nearby CN Tower.

Auerbach barely paused to take a breath, although there were a few “Toronto” shout outs to keep the Scotiabank Arena crowd on his side. Not that he and his brother in music Carney would have much of a hill to climb here. The energy levels obviously aren’t the same as when the ‘Keys would blow the door off other venues like the Phoenix and Kool Haus; there are chairs now in the general admission floor area and Carney’s thickfreakness-rimmed glasses stay on for the entire show, but local fans have always appreciated hardworking, A+ effort rock.

We like it weird sometimes too, just not eccentric to the point where you feel you can get away without doing one of your most recognizable songs. Lookin’ at you, Modest Mouse…the name of this tour isn’t ‘Let’s (Indie) Rock’!

Gilles LeBlanc

Gilles LeBlanc literally fell into “alternative rock” wayyy back at Lollapalooza 1992, where he got caught in his first mosh pit watching some band named Pearl Jam. Since then, he’s spent the better part of his life looking for music to match the liberating rush he felt that day, with a particular chest-beating emphasis on stuff coming out of his native Canada. It took him awhile, but Gilles now writes feverishly about all things that rock (and or roll) through his ROCKthusiast alter ego.

Gilles LeBlanc has 104 posts and counting. See all posts by Gilles LeBlanc

One thought on “Concert Review: The Black Keys at Scotiabank Arena (10/09/19)

  • Enjoyed the show, but one thing irked me. As a musician I found it unfortunate that for all the times Dan pointed out Pat or reminded us of his name, not one single time did he even acknowledge the other 3 musicians on the stage. They think enough of these guys to hire them and drag them around the world, at least give them some props!


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