By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
The Black Keys’ Dropout Boogie Tour with Band of Horses and Early James – Mid-Florida Amphitheatre, Tampa, Florida – August 25, 2022
7:00 p.m. Here we are in late August in Florida–and concerts are still held outside in spite of its notorious tropical weather. On the evening of Friday 25th at the Mid-Florida Credit Union Amphitheatre, rain was pouring cats and dogs. People were scrambling from their cars wearing garbage bags and flimsy plastic ponchos. Umbrellas were flying in the wind and as I sat in my car I was wondering if Black Keys and Band of Horses concert would carry on. The venue is covered with an aluminum canopy so half of the theatre is typically dry–and the rest, well, have to deal with it.
7:30 p.m. After leaving my car clutching onto my camera bag, stepping in 5-inch puddles with my Skechers, I made it to the administrative building. I could hear Early James, singing and playing a guitar, so the show was definitely on. Early James is a new artist signed by Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound label.
8:00 p.m. Finally the rain subsided giving the crowd a reprieve as Band of Horses hit the stage performing a montage of hits. Formed almost 20 years ago, the indie band performed such hits as “The Great Salt Lake” and “The Funeral” from their debut album Cease to Begin. With a smoke-filled stage and atmospheric ambience, the fans were treated to more favorite hits like “The General Specific” and “No One’s Gonna’ Love You”. My personal favorite of the evening was a catchy single “Crutch”, an upbeat guitar-driven tune from the recent album Things are Great. Band of Horses certainly made the crowd forget about their rain-soaked clothing and warmed everyone with their thought-provoking lyrics and distinctive brand of indie-folksy rock.
9:15 p.m. I personally was excited to see The Black Keys this evening because their debut album Brothers is one of my all-time favorites. It came out in 2010 as a bright and shiny nugget of raunchy, sexy, bluesy tracks that stood out from the mundane music at the time. Carney’s syncopated drumming added vibrancy to Auerbach’s slide guitar and vocals which ranges between being raspy and gritty to all-out falsetto.
Carney’s drum kit was sitting on stage with the front decorated with flowers, a funeral urn, and a stuffed tiger. The Ludwig drum kit’s toms were striped with vibrant, glittery primary colors. A very humorous video of a guy asking the audience if they brought their children to the show had everyone in stitches. It ended with the video noting that Auerbach and Carney may have dropped out of college but are very successful today.
When the band came on stage Carney was in line along the front of the stage with Auerbach, wearing dark Ray Bans, and playing a white Supro electric guitar. The stage was full of smoke and support band members (percussion, bass, guitar, and keys) stood at the rear of the stage. From the get-go, The Black Keys jumped into full-blown rock ‘n’ roll which brought the crowd to their feet. With “I Got Mine” and a personal fav’ “Howlin’ For You”, I knew it was going to be a great evening.
Not only was the music a feast for the ears but the stage décor, which included stunning graphics and color shown on a canvas screen, produced sensory overload. Scaffolds of lights were displayed behind the screen creating a visual display of psychedelia, pop art, and real-time videos of the band performing for all to see. I cannot remember the last time I have seen a more beautiful stage set-up–so kudos to the art director, which I assume is Michael Carney. More bands need to follow suit. This is what the audience wants to experience—a show!
Auerbach’s guitar tone was so distinctive and vintage-sounding. His slide guitar was mesmerizing and his voice was on-point. I couldn’t help but admire Carney’s drum work. He plays traditional hand over wrist, adds a melodic touch with the toms, and is never over-the-top. He’s tasteful and comparable to another drummer I admire, Stewart Copeland.
After the raucous rock set of songs the band moved to traditional blues covers by the late R.L. Burnside (“Poor Black Mattie” and “Goin’ Down South”). Sitting in on slide guitar was virtuoso Kenny Brown who used to play with Burnside. The set was groovin’, featured Auerbach’s falsetto at times, and cool wah-wah pedal solos. The set ended with a personal favorite “Have Love, Will Travel” which was penned by Richard Berry, Jr., and made famous by garage rock band The Sonics.
The concert then turned into a rock ‘n’ roll party with songs new songs from Dropout Boogie like “Your Team Is Looking Good” and the super catchy “Wild Child”. After the concert ended with “She’s Long Gone” the crowd’s clapping and roaring for an encore was deafening. The band emerged from back of the stage and performed more hits including “Lonely Boy” and “Little Black Submarines”.
The Black Keys’ concert was well worth waiting for—rain-soaked and everything! They performed almost two hours of supremely performed blues and rock and the visuals were stunning. I’m still on a high today.
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