The Black Keys Keep It Simple And Amazing at Target Center Show


I had come to terms with the fact that last night’s show just wasn’t in the cards for me and I kept trying to tell myself that that was okay but, deep down, it wasn’t. I knew I had to be at last night’s show. A bucketlist band, a favorite and a band I had never heard of before– it was my favorite type of line-up so when I got the e-mail yesterday afternoon saying I was approved to cover the show, I couldn’t help but get excited and breathe a sigh of relief for my bank account.

*Repeat Repeat got the night started off in the most perfect way. Their infectiously poppy beats were ringing through the arena as the late arriving crowd made their way through security. The Nashville based band pumped through their quick opening set with a sense of fury without coming off as rushed. They took their time and played each track with a sense of professionalism and accuracy that I wish more opening acts on bills like this would focus on. That being said, they were still clearly having fun while performing.  Although easily shadowed by the two big name headiners, *Repeat Repeat definitely left a lasting impression in myself and anyone else who was smart enough to get to the show early.

Modest Mouse kicked their set off and I instantly fell back in love with the band. It’s not that I was ever not a fan, more they were one of those bands that took over my life for a couple of months and then quietly drifted to the shelves in my room full of albums from days gone by. Shame on me. Within the first song I realized that this band hasn’t gone anywhere and continue to stay true to their unique sound that set the airwaves ablaze years ago. A mix of driving drum beats and being lost in a cloud of nostalgia had Modest Mouse’s set flying by and I found myself desperately holding onto every last minute of it.
It has been years since I saw this band and although the songs have changed, the vibe has not. Their music comes off as chaotic and busy at times but the laid back energy of their live show keeps it from going off the tracks. It’s that energy that seemed to captivate the audience. Sure, everyone was singing along to the hits including my personal favorite, “Float On”, but watching the crowd be just as captivated by the non-hits proved to me that, although this band may have quietly exited my daily playlist, that’s not the case for majority of other people. I had just as much fun watching the excited and somewhat rowdy crowd as I did watching the band. 

It wasn’t until the end of the show as the band was walking off stage that I noticed that, other than a quick,  “Thanks for coming out… enjoy the rest of the show.”, Modest Mouse didn’t engage with the crowd at all. The more that I thought about it, the more annoyed I got with the situation and the more surprised I was with it. For a band with music that is so full of personality and energy, it was strange to come to terms with the fact that they had nothing to say to the crowd but I digress. Modest Mouse sounded great and brought an energy to the audience that kept everyone happy and dancing… What more could you ask for.

Closing out the night was the one and only Black Keys. This is one band I have been dying to see live but have never gotten the chance. This was my chance and I couldn’t help but get lost in the excitement as the band took the stage. As soon as they jumped into their first song of their signature blues drenched rock with an undeniable sense of swagger attached to it, I couldn’t help the cheesy smile from creeping across my face. The first song felt a little understated as far as the stage set up went. Other than a giant light up sign with the band name in it, there isn’t much to write about but that changed rather quickly. The band name in lights was replaced with visuals and live footage of the members playing against a white sheet that hung behind the band. Still rather understated for such a big arena show, I think it showed just what kind of band this is–  one that is still all about the music.

It wasn’t until the white sheet dropped after the third song that I really felt like my dream of seeing these guys live was coming true. From the screen at the back of the stage surrounded by lights on either side of said screen plus the lights hanging from the ceiling, there was something so anthemic and powerful about the performance and that’s just what I wanted. It seemed to be hit after hit throughout the set. The Black Keys are one of those bands that you know has hit songs but it’s not u till you go see them in concert that you really recognize the sheer amount of hits they actually have. Every song sounded better than the last and every song had an undeniable sense of swagger and energy to it that had the entire audience on their feet and moving to the beat.

From slow songs to fast, bright to dark, The Black Keys’ set was all over the ace but that’s just how I wanted it. This band has so many different sounds and styles that all come together to make their unique brand and to be able to see that all unfold onstage in front of you is pure magic. Add the fact that they sound almost exactly like they do on recordings when playing live and you are left with nothing less than perfection. All in all, their set still felt understated to me. Sure, the lights were amazing but it was almost bare for an arena show. I loved that because, again, it proved that no matter how big this band gets, they will continue to focus on putting out great music and that’s it. I’ll take an understated show any night if I can have the same quality of music that The Black Keys gave me last night.

Although their set was nearly twenty songs followed by a three song encore, much like Modest Mouse, The Black Keys’ set flew by and before I knew it I was being ushered into the crisp fall night. After a stop at the bar with my cousin who happened to also be at the show, I found myself at home getting ready for bed with a giant grin that had taken over my face. It’s the type of grin I only get when I know I’ve seen a hell of a show.