April 14, 2012


Coachella Day 1: Black Keys Bring Blues Rock, Intimacy to Desert

Aubree Lennon for Fuse
Aubree Lennon for Fuse

There was little between-song banter short of a birthday wish to drummer Patrick Carney. No covers were played. No surprise guests came out. None of that mattered, though, as The Black Keys re-solidified their spot at the top of today's rock pantheon.

The group delivered a 75-minute, career-spanning set culled from nearly every album (Sorry, Rubber Factory fans; no tracks tonight), focusing heavily on 2011's El Camino and 2010's Brothers. The group's sparse, minimalist setup wasn't altered for a festival headlining set, yet the duo, joined by bassist Gus Seyffert and keyboardist/guitarist John Wood, emoted with all the thrust of a band twice their size.

After five songs, Seyffert and Wood left the stage, leaving guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach and drummer Carney alone to focus on what Auerbach called the "oldies, but goodies," including "I'll Be Your Man" from 2002's The Big Come Up and "Thickfreakness" from the 2003 album of the same name. As The White Stripes proved in 2003, two-person bands can dominate tens of thousands of people at Coachella, and The Black Keys showed that they can get by purely on their musical chops.

After finishing up the first leg of their U.S. arena tour last month, which included two sold out shows at Madison Square Garden, the band's Coachella set seemed more of a victory lap than proving ground. Spectacle and performance aren't taboo words, especially at a venue this size, but the group's show proved that even among 75,000 of your closest friends, it's still possible to create the intimacy of a 100-person show.


1. Howlin' for You
2. Next Girl
3. Same Old Thing
4. Dead and Gone
5. Gold on the Ceiling
6. Thickfreakness
7. I'll Be Your Man
8. Your Touch
9. Little Black Submarines
10. Money Maker
11. She's Long Gone
12. Nova Baby
13. Ten Cent Pistol
14. Tighten Up
15. Lonely Boy
16. Everlasting Light
17. I Got Mine

Related: The 10 Best Moments of Coachella: Day 1