Splice Magazine

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The Black Keys bring Their Dropout Boogie Tour To The MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre

Tampa, Fl. (August 25th, 2022)

Tampa’s tropical summer weather was in full force, and that could only mean one thing, humid stormy weather. For most this would mean a night to hide, let alone head to an Amphitheatre.  For those that ventured out to the MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre they were rewarded with an incredible performance by the Black Keys.  Indeed, the sultry stormy weather was the perfect backdrop to some of the steamiest Mississippi hill country blues courtesy of the Black Keys and their 2021 release Delta Kream as well as full retrospective of their impressive career.

With rain blowing sideways into the venue during opener Early James set and only backing off midway through Band Of Horses time on the stage, the weather set an ominous backdrop. But ultimately it only helped to set the tone of a steamy powerful night of music. While the crowd was drying off and in great spirits, a video featuring comedian David Cross started playing with himself as the head of the fictitious organization Dads Interested in Choosing Kids Songs or D.I.C.K.S. for short. In the video he urged the fans not to see the Black Keys on their Dropout Boogie tour.

With the video ending and the fans chanting for the Black Keys, the duo made up of Dan Auerbach on guitar and vocals, and drummer Patrick Carney finally made their way on stage. As Auerbach made his way to the mic, as a tip of the hat towards the audience he simply said “Evening”. From the opening notes of “I Got Mine”, the first song of the night, you could sense that this would be a special night. Auerbach’s smooth voice had that just right bluesy tinge to it, and his guitar work was dialed in tight to Carney’s strong drumming. They continued to work through a solid set of songs that spanned their career from their early garage rock days like “Your Touch” off of the 2006 release Magic Touch to “Gold On The Ceiling” from the Grammy Award winning album El Camino. They even fit in “It Ain’t Over” off of their latest album Dropout Boogie.

With the show flowing beautifully and the crowd eating up the loud, raw, and powerful music the Black Keys were playing, it was now time for the show to change up completely. While it is almost de rigueur for bands to do cover songs, the Black Keys recently put out Delta Kream an album entirely made up of blues cover songs that influenced the duo. At this point in the show they brought out legendary guitarist Kenny Brown and bassist Eric Deaton to recreate the magic off of Delta Kream. During this show within a show the now foursome played some of the fiercest Mississippi hilltop blues since it was first performed. Whether they played Junior Kimbrough’s “Stay All Night” or John Lee Hooker’s “Crawlin’ Kingsnake” you couldn’t help but be drawn into their world and their musical influences. During all of this Brown’s wicked slide guitar work was the star of this segment. As with anything the Black Keys do, there is no flash for flash’s sake, this was just raw powerful blues music played to perfection. Judging by the wild cheering after each solo, this break from the norm clearly just added to the magic of the night.

When Brown and Deaton left, things switched back to the Black Keys material. They treated the fans to some of their new material like “Lo/Hi”, and “Your Team Is Looking Good” as well as their latest hit “Wild Child”. While they have a well earned reputation built from their DIY blues driven ethos, they are more than just that. Their performance of “Everlasting Light” was a masterclass in dynamics. Auerbach’s falsetto voice and understated guitarwork was equally matched by Carney’s gentle drum work. As they wove their way through the song they pulled back on the volume while keeping an even tempo, ultimately finishing with an abrupt flourish.  Their performance of one of their biggest hits “Little Black Submarines” was equally as dynamic and powerful. Auerbach started off with his acoustic guitar under a single spotlight for the first part of the song with the audience accompanying him. As the song progressed Carney joined him lockstep in perfect tempo and volume. At the midpoint when the tempo shifts Auerbach switched to his electric guitar and they instantly dialed up the volume. At this point Carney produced some of his fiercest drum work of the night. They capped off the night with one of their most popular songs “Lonely Boy” which had the whole venue singing along as well.

The Black Keys aren’t about histrionics or over the top gestures and their shows reflect those values. They want their music to be the star and throw all their energy into that goal.  The incredible musical chemistry between the duo that can only be forged through quite literally growing up and learning the ropes of the music industry together was evident throughout the night. This performance was more than just a concert it was a journey through the career of the Black Keys set to a soundtrack of their incredible career and their influences.

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