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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 10, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 50
The Black Keys blow away the pack at DTHB
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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The Black Keys blow away the pack at DTHB

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Deck the Hall Ball
w/ Broken Bells, The Black
Keys, Jimmy Eat World,
and more
December 8
WaMu Theater


The night belonged to The Black Keys, and by a wide margin. No one came close to matching the electricity of the Akron, Ohio-based duo, who last week earned a whopping four Grammy nominations. The blues-rock fusion group proved their worth at WaMu Theater, smoking out five other bands with a blistering performance that garnered the biggest cheers at the Deck the Hall Ball.

Interestingly, The Black Keys weren't the headliners of this year's wintery gala, hosted by alternative radio station 107.7 The End. Broken Bells, the Danger Mouse-James Mercer project that also scooped up a Grammy nod a week ago, was the final act to go onstage, but their set was lackluster compared to The Black Keys - in fact, concertgoers began filing out steadily throughout their set. Mercer, well-groomed and wearing a bright plaid shirt with dark blue jeans, sounded fine on the opening number 'October' and on the Bells' summer hit 'The Ghost Inside,' yet overall they weren't all that exciting to listen to live.

In contrast, The Black Keys overflowed with amazement. Lead singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach sang as if he'd been plucked out of the '60s, with a voice that wailed beautifully and nostalgically on 'Strange Times' and 'I'll Be Your Man' as if tie-dyes were just being introduced. But the pair's sound is soaked heavily in Southern rock and blues, not quite psychedelic, with some dazzling guitar work by Auerbach, who squeezed himself nicely into a very form-fitting pair of jeans and a leather coat-shirt. Meanwhile, the super-tall Patrick Carney beat so intensely on his drum kit that you could actually count the lines on his forehead by viewing two flatscreen monitors mounted on either side of the stage. 'Tighten Up' and 'Your Touch' were two more songs The Black Keys included in their booming set.

Jimmy Eat World was good, but they've been better. The Arizona-based unit performed crowd favorites like 'The Middle,' 'Pain,' and 'Get It Faster,' as well as their newer singles 'My Best Theory' and 'Coffee & Cigarettes,' though their performance didn't have the same bite as when they played at The Showbox SoDo a couple years back. However, the group's cover of Wham!'s 'Last Christmas' was a knockout, even if it was depressing. Lead singer Jim Adkins and the other members gave what they could, and if you'd never seen Jimmy Eat World before, you would've been floored - but trust me, they're capable of being more explosive.

Cake, despite not performing two of its biggest hits - 'The Distance' and 'I Will Survive' - were surprisingly solid. The veteran band, which plays a multitude of instruments including trumpet and vibra-slap, were upbeat and musically interesting on selections like 'Frank Sinatra,' 'Sick of You,' and an upcoming release, which appears to be called 'It's Been a Long Time.'

Sleigh Bells kicked off the Deck the Hall Ball and were boisterous and fun to take in. Alexis Krauss, dressed sexily in black-silver tight pants and black tank top, whipped her hair in circles and from side to side during a set that included 'Crown on the Ground,' 'Treats,' and a searing version of 'Kids,' which showcased Derek E. Miller cranking on electric guitar. Temper Trap from Melbourne, Australia had scattered good moments, but didn't have a unique sound or style and were thus forgetful.

An interview with Sleigh Bells prints in next week's issue.

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