The Black Keys have released all manner of blues rock tunes from the Robert Johnson licks of The Big Come Up and Chulahoma to the psychedelic rock of 2014's Turn Blue. But, all of those seemed like iterations on a tried and true product, whereas frontman Dan Auerbach's The Arcs flips the genre on its head to creates something new.
This was evident at Auerbach's Akron homecoming show with his latest project on Monday night (Dec. 8) in which the band tore through its newly released album Yours Dreamily to an enthusiastic crowd at the downtown Civic Theater, where Auerbach used to come as a kid.
"This place really changed my life. This is a place you go to as a kid and it really blows your mind," Auerbach said of the theater that was built in 1929. "We've played in venues all over the world and this is still my favorite place."
Like LeBron James going to Miami to learn how to win a championship, so too did Auerbach have to leave to hone his skills. All that hard work showed last night as he drew from R&B, soul, Latin, rock and blues influences to create an eclectic set that defied genres.
Psychedelic imagery was projected on the walls behind the band with decorative plants off to the side, the all female mariachi band and show opener Flor De Toloache settled the audience in to the Latin and soul influences. This came into play in the Arcs' set for "Pistol Made Of Bones," and the music was complex and dense as musicians swapped or doubled up on instruments to create ever more complicated rhythms.
But it's not just the increased size of the band, The Black Keys have expanded beyond the core two person arrangement long ago. This is something more, as Auerbach works off of that core blues style he grew up on and expands it for a truly different sound. One that gives him the freedom to riff on guitar and vocal solos and make abrupt changes in style while remaining seamlessly interwoven.
Although he's already been a Grammy winning performer and producer, it seems like Auerbach is just hitting his stride, and it'll be exciting to see what he makes in the future.