Hypnotized by the Black Keys

Beneath your feet the stands start rumbling. The stadium is hazily illuminated by hundreds of smart phone lights. Shouts are deafening and your throat is already hoarse, but you keep cheering for them to come back out.

And then it happens.

Lights burst back on as guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney walk across the stage. The crowd erupts even louder than when the pair began playing some of their most anticipated songs.

The backdrop rises to reveal the spinning hypnotic graphic of the band’s latest album, Turn Blue (Nonesuch). It’s hard to look away as Dan sings “Weight of Love,” the first song on the album.

The Black Keys’ entire performance Sunday night at the TD Garden was a mesmerizing, visual experience. At any given time the crowd witnessed up to 20 screens featuring different angles of Auerbach and Carney. Each shot was stylized with a psychedelic filter and synchronized with the crescendos and diminuendos of every song. Some screens would fade out as another would seemingly pop out of no where, giving an animated effect. As a visual communicator, I appreciate the marriage of visual and auditory performance. I did not expect it from the Black Keys despite their obvious appreciation of art (check out the album cover of Attack & Release).


The closing song of the evening, “Black Submarine” really drove home how incredible the pairing is. Just after Dan utters “a broken heart is blind,” the stage explodes again with a medley of lights in sync with his guitar solo. I could sense awe and appreciation flooding the crowd.

The stadium (fit for over 17,000 people) had an energy akin to an intimate show, made possible by adoring fans belting out lyrics in unison and the gratitude exuded by the musicians. Dan does not talk much on stage, and even admits that he is “certainly not your typical front-man material.” He paused a few times, only to thank the Boston audience. It’s inspiring, rare and refreshing to see artists who continue to push the envelope and remain humble after so much fame and success.



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