By: Campbell Tuel ~Head Copy Editor~
The Black Keys opened their “Turn Blue” world tour last Friday at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus to a nearly sold-out crowd. Hailing from Akron, childhood friends Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney formed The Black Keys in 2001. Meeting in a basement and recording a demo, they eventually landed a recording contract with Alive, a small indie label out of Los Angeles.
In an interview on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air,” Carney explained that the name “The Black Keys” came from a friend of their fathers’, Alfred McMoore, an artist with schizophrenia, who would call and leave messages on their fathers’ machines, calling them names like “D flat,” or names of other black piano keys when he was upset. When the two began playing together, the name became an obvious choice.
The band’s eighth and newest album, “Turn Blue,” was released on May 13 of this year and Auerbach and Carney have an 11 country, 69 show tour scheduled from September to mid-April.
The tour features appearances at various shows by Cage the Elephant, Jake Bugg and St. Vincent. The Schott was packed from the minute doors opened and fans rushed to the front of the general admission pit, anxiously waiting for Cage the Elephant to take the stage.
Formed in 2006, Cage the Elephant signed with Relentless Records after performing in the South by Southwest festival of 2007. The band relocated from Bowling Green, Ky., to London and released a self-titled album to favorable reviews. Their third single, “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked,” launched the band onto the radio and into the public eye.
Notorious for flailing movements and strange clothing, Cage the Elephant frontman Matt Shultz cued the band into “Spiderhead,” kicking off the show. Shultz incorporated dance moves from Mick Jagger and Tina Turner, keeping the performance entertaining, unpredictable and fresh.
Shultz’s vocals never faltered even while diving into the crowd or shedding his clothing. Combining elements from 60s garage rock, 70s punk rock and 80s alternative rock, Cage the Elephant walked off the stage leaving the crowd released from their spell and begging for more. Audience members weren’t disappointed for long, however, as soon Auerbach and Carney took the stage, joined by touring musicians Richard Swift and John Clement Wood.
Backed by a tall red velvet curtain, the set resembled a vaudeville stage, illuminating Auerbach and Carney at the center.
After opener “Next Girl,” the group jammed to “Your Touch,” dropping the vaudeville curtain and revealing dozens of flashing lights and illuminated screens, creating a new, edgy backdrop. The band launched into “Gold on the Ceiling,” proving the best was yet to come. They weren’t wrong.
“It feels so good to be back in Ohio,” Auerbach breathed into the microphone before he struck up the next song. The band performed fan favorites like “Fever,” “Howling for You,” “Leavin’ Trunk,” “Tighten Up” and a bluesy cover of Edwyn Collins’ “A Girl Like You.”“Lonely Boy” finished out the scheduled setlist and the arena went dark, illuminated by cell phones and exit signs.
Nearly five minutes passed as fans screamed and cheered until Auerbach and Carney reappeared, playing a song off of 2004’s “Rubber Factory,” a cover of The Kinks’ “Act Nice and Gentle.”
“You knew we were gonna play a couple more for ya, didn’t you?” Auerbach joked. The lights went down and Auerbach was spotlighted with an acoustic guitar and what sounded like tuning morphed into “Little Black Submarines.” The audience erupted and the band launched into an extended play.
The encore finished off with “I Got Mine” and as the final notes faded, Auerbach threw his pick to the crowd, blew a kiss and the duo walked offstage to roaring applause. High energy, hometown support and bare-bones blues-rock carried Cage the Elephant and The Black Keys through the concert and made the set one for the books.