The Black Keys brought some serious groove to the Adobe Summit digital marketing conference in Salt Lake City on March 6. While corporate gigs are often an excuse for bands to mail in a performance in exchange for a quick check, The Black Keys would have none of it, putting on a fast-paced hour-long show featuring some serious jamming and a delirious amount of distortion.
Primarily consisting of the duo of guitarist/singer Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney but playing as a four-piece with a backup bassist and drummer, The Black Keys focused on their hits – “Lonely Boy” was a crowd favorite and Auerbach proved himself a first-rate whistler on “Tighten Up.” Auerbach is also a deft guitarist, equally capable of churning out buzzing, feedback-soaked chords that would make Dave Davies proud as well as creating clean, nimble solos – and his voice is as rich and soulful in concert as it is the studio. Meanwhile, Carney is an aggressive and skilled drummer whose long, gangly body belies the coordination and rhythm with which he plays.
Auerbach and Carney clearly feed off each other playing live, Auerbach frequently genuflected to, stood over and even climbed the drum riser of Carney, reminiscent of how Keith Richards plays to Charlie Watts during Rolling Stones concerts (and any serious Stones fan knows how critical the Richards-Watts dynamic is to that band’s live performances).
Other highlights included “Little Black Submarine,” beginning with Auerbach playing an old-fashioned metal-faced resonator guitar, and an encore of “I Got Mine” featuring Auerbach and Carney playing as a duo and making more than enough noise by themselves. In a setting focused on futuristic technology, The Black Keys played unabashedly retro rock n roll, and the crowd was better off for it.