SINGER/GUITARIST Dan Auerbach and drummer Pat Carney may have been around for a decade, but their talent is just starting to be recognized. It was a lucky thing for the crowd that turned out to see the blues rock duo at Burnaby's Deer Lake Park June 27, or they would have been straining to see them in a stadium.
The pared-down show, set on a simple stage with accent spotlights and strings of exposed bulbs, seemed out of keeping with the band's fame, which has been growing since the release of their breakout album Brother in May last year. The event felt as if it could have been happening at a Louisiana dive bar - and the sound was rich enough to make you believe you were on the bayou, and not standing in the middle of a Burnaby park.
Auerbach and Carney, looking very much like a couple of Akron, Ohio boys, button up shirts and all, started their set by addressing the cheering crowd - an eclectic mix of hipsters, high school kids, really little kids on shoulders, tattooed rockers - before launching into their opening song "Thickfreakness."
The pair followed up their opener with "Girl is on my Mind," "The Breaks," "Stack Shot Billy" and "I'm Busted." Even the biggest Black Keys fans, the ones with a tour shirt from a couple of years back, looked taken aback by the sound that came out of those two. Surely neither was old enough to have asked John Lee Hooker for singing tips - or to have drunk the sheer volume of bourbon it takes to produce such a bluesy soul voice?
Despite their recent trio of Grammy awards, Auerbach was notably humbled by the turnout, and after the fifth song thanked everyone for coming to the show, saying "we do appreciate it."
After the song "Nice and Gentle," the duo brought out a bassist and keyboardist to add further layers to their rich, dirty sound. The foursome played the opening bars of "Everlasting
Light," and a giant disco ball was added to the mix.
The song "Howling For You" brought even the most reluctant hipsters to their feet to jump throughout the chorus, fists pumping.
When the signature whistle rang out for "Tighten Up," the crowd came alive. For a muggy night, there was boundless energy. Kids on shoulders were fist-pumping like troopers, high school kids were dancing away, and no one noticed the occasional smattering of rain, apart from this reviewer, who wanted to find another tidbit to add to her review.
The final song of the night was "Your Touch," an anthem with such heavy bass that you could feel it in your gut.
It's hard to comprehend how just two people can create such a wall of sound. Feedback and reverb are clearly among Auerbach's best friends.
After hearing the solid reviews from last year's Orpheum show, one feels like the fans got lucky to see the band in another relatively small venue, before they inevitably take those stadiums by storm.