Arts & Events

The Black Keys Bring A Night Of Rock and Blues To Seattle

On Saturday, Nov. 1, Seattle’s Key Arena welcomed arguably what many consider to be the quintessential faces of the newly revived garage rock genre.

The air crackled with electricity and the faint smell of cigarettes as Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney of The Black Keys took to the stage and proceeded to blow away the crowd for nearly two hours straight.

The band has been touring the U.S. since early September, promoting their new album, Turn Blue, which was released back in May 2014.

Thankfully, the group knows its audience and, while the songs of Turn Blue are arguably on par with their old classics, the audience of the Key Arena got to hear those same classics as well.

In a sense echoing the American dream, The Black Keys came from rather humble beginnings.

Having started back in modest Akron, Ohio playing out of dive bars and basements, the group, which consists of Dan Auerbach on guitar and vocals and Patrick Carney on drums, has been producing hits and making people dance for close to thirteen years.

2002 marked the release of the band’s first album The Big Come Up, which Carney himself produced. The album sold roughly 139,000 copies, an impressive achievement for an independent rock group such as The Black Keys.

The first album featured such hits as “Heavy Soul,”—which is one of my personal favorites due to its fast pace and excellent guitar solos—and “Leaving Trunk,” featured in Saturday night’s performance.

Nearly a year later, the band came back onto the scene, releasing their second album: Thickfreakness, which continued the band’s tradition of blues and rock.

The album paid homage to rock and blues legends Junior Kimbrough and Richard Berry through covers of classic songs such as “Everywhere I Go” and “Have Love, Will Travel,” which is another personal favorite.

Even more interesting than the songs included in the album is how they were produced in the first place. The entire 12-song album was recorded in one 14-hour recording session in Carney’s own basement using an early 1980s Tascam 388 8-Track recorder.

The band would eventually continue with this brand of unconventional recording with the release of their third album, Rubber Factory, which earned its name from the condemned tire factory in their hometown of Akron that the band had to use to record its songs.

Two years later, the group would produce two albums. The first of which, Chulahoma: The Songs of Junior Kimborough, continued in their tradition of paying homage to the bluesmen of old, Chulahom includes six cover songs of Kimborough’s classics.

Next came Magic Potion, an album which embodied the band’s own unique bluesy sound. Magic Potion included such hits as “Your Touch” and “Goodbye Babylon,” two songs that demonstrated the band’s wide musical range.

Their sixth album, Attack and Release, would mark the first album produced in an actual professional recording studio and its success certainly reflected the change.

It’s arguable that the band’s meteoric rise in popularity came in 2010 with their release of Brothers, especially when one compares its unparalleled success to the band’s earlier albums.

Featuring smash-hits such as “Tighten Up” and “Howlin’ For You” (both of which would later go gold), the album earned the group three Grammys, including an honor for Best Alternative Music Album.

Turn Blue’s melancholic lyrics and slow pace marked a departure from previous albums, opting for more psychedelic rock influences than blues ones, continuing the band’s meteoric success.