The World’s Most Famous Arena took on a vintage feel when The Black Keys opened their set on Monday, March 12. When the pounding rhythm from, “Howlin‚ For You,” (one of the big singles from the wildly popular album “Brothers”) echoed through the capacity crowd, The Garden began to shake.
Throughout its rich sports and music history, it has been well documented that if the energy level reaches a certain point in Madison Square Garden, a physical sway can be felt around the building and this concert was no exception.
What made this particular night different wasn’t the mood of the audience; it was the make-up of the duo that was able to command the attention of the packed house with every blaring guitar hook and every pulsating beat.
Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney aka The Black Keys are no strangers to the live music scene, far from it. In fact, the group has been turning out records and playing gigs for over a decade but recently, the results have been starkly different. With the breakout success of 2010’s “Brothers” followed up by the acclaim for their most recent effort “El Camino,” the band has moved past the days of touring in a van to their first arena tour and they have been riding the wave on their own terms.
In the midst of a musical landscape that is constantly changing, the group has been able to stay relatively close to the signature stripped down blues-rock sound they first began to explore on 2001’s “The Big Come Up” only now, a larger demographic is starting to take notice. By selling out The Garden in “15 minutes” the garage rock duo just raised the standard on arena rock.
After warming up with a few tracks off “El Camino,” Auerbach and Carney took the show in a different direction for a real highlight of the set. As the backing musicians stepped off stage, the duo went at it alone for a few songs including a rendition of the title track off of 2003’s “Thickfreakness.” It was then, when they shined the brightest.
The two guys on stage personified the essence of cool in front of a crowd of almost 20,000. With a laid back demeanor they effortlessly commanded the sound of a band with at least twice as many members. Auerbach’s, distortion-heavy riffs were loose and flowing but never strayed too far from Carney’s steady tempo. Not only did the band look like they belonged on one of the biggest stages, they looked like they have been there forever.
Appropriately, the show ended with a song titled “I Got Mine,” the lyrics of which include , “Rock And Roll Hustle / All The Time / And Now I Know Baby / I Got Mine.” If there is any doubt that hard work and staying true to yourself doesn’t pay off, there is no reason to look any further then The Black Keys. With years of experience behind them, the boys from Akron, Ohio can finally bask in the glow of their name in lights.
By Michael Gonzalez
SEE PHOTOS: The Black Keys at MSG Gallery