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The Black Keys light up Coachella with energetic set

By Leah Christianson

April 18, 2012 11:41 pm

*The Black Keys
Coachella, Weekend One
4 Paws*

On what was perhaps one of the coldest nights in Coachella history, the Black Keys heated up the Coachella stage on Friday night.

Looking like anything but a pair of rock stars, the unassuming duo from Akron, Ohio began its headlining set with a rocking rendition of “Howlin’ For You.” The group maintained the grungy aesthetics found in its videos with backdrops of dusty dirt roads jumbled together with a smattering of mismatched colors as it opened its powerful set.

A particularly raw rendition of “Next Girl,” also off the band’s album, “Brothers” got the crowd moving. Tapping into his uncanny ability to make even the stiffest of listeners want to play the air guitar, lead singer and guitarist Dan Auerbach’s voice impressively soared above the group’s loud instrumentals.

The band then performed three tracks from its album, “El Camino,” with the energy peaking during “Dead and Gone.” The Black Keys’ newer work maintains its hard garage rock undertones but adds a more polished twist, which came across well during this set.

The Black Keys’ band then left the stage, leaving Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney to fill the stage. Their atypical setup of placing Carney’s drum set at the front of the stage alongside Auerbach provided a more focused visual of the duo’s playing power. Their intensity present in the set’s opening was only amplified as the two sang and jumped around onstage. Carney seemed to not just be playing the drums, but attempting to pummel them into the stage itself.

Halfway through a slower tune, “Little Black Submarines,” the stage fell dark. When the lights sprang back up, the rest of the band had rejoined Auerbach and Carney, transforming the heartfelt ballad into a full-blown rock jam.

It began to rain as the band played “Lonely Boy,” the first single off “El Camino.” However, this did little to dampen the Black Keys; if anything, the poor weather only fueled the rough yet carefree atmosphere.

A disco ball slowly descended as the set wound down with “Everlasting Light,” painting the otherwise cloudy skies with sparkling flecks of light. Auerbach crooned in a surprisingly soothing soprano asking the audience to let him be their “shepherd.”

The band closed its set with “I Got Mine,” giving a performance that encompassed the spirit of the Black Keys. Finishing their fifth Coachella performance, the pair seemed just as dedicated to the energy of their music as they surely was at their first.

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