The Black Keys / Arctic Monkeys - Live in St. Louis (Cover Artwork)

The Black Keys / Arctic Monkeys

Live in St. Louis (2012)

live show

By now, every single person on the planet (well mostly) has been swamped with jams by the Black Keys everywhere they go; from department stores, commercials, radios, magazines, etc. etc. etc., the Keys are on top of the world. After 10 years and seven LP releases, they finally have found their place in mainstream rock, but still never dwindled away from their roots. The breakthrough of 2010's Brothers introduced the Keys to their widest fan base yet, but even if it was a commercial success, it still flippin' rocked. Then, out of nowhere, they came back at the end of 2011 with El Camino. The seventh LP was shorter than Brothers, consisted more of a full band and was basically an album of singles. I'm not dissing the fact that most of the jams on this LP are more radio-friendly, because I still adore Camino. I will say, however, I've heard "Lonely Boy" enough in my lifetime.

After I missed the 2010 show in St. Louis, the Keys announced a 2012 an arena. Sure, I'm a small(er) venue type of guy, but the Keys want everyone to see them and with an opener like the Arctic Monkeys, I was content with the arena. I've seen the Arctic Monkeys before, but not the Keys, so this was a big night for me. The arena was sold out, with fans ranging from old couples to frat boys to our beloved hipster darlings. I think we can all agree that the Black Keys are quite universal.

At 8 p.m. sharp, the Arctic Monkeys took the stage. Lead singer Alex Turner looked a lot sharper than the last time I saw him; he cut off his long haired mop, sporting a new '50s Elvis look. The strobe lights flashed as they blasted into the perfect opener, "Brianstorm." After knocking out two more older jams, they took time to play some material off of 2011's underrated Suck It and See. They continued to range their songs from all four albums, closing with the new track "R U Mine." For an opener, they rocked the house. If people didn't know who the Monkeys were before, they do now. The strobes, loud guitar and bass riffs, and Matt Helders' astounding drumming techniques, gave the crowd some crazed out excitement before the headliner. I've been a long time fan of them, and you can sense such a new maturity throughout the quartet. Alex Turner alone seemed way peppier than the last time; he talked to crowd, joked and danced. His dedication to the ladies in the audience before playing "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" had to of melted their little hearts. After about an hour and the Monkeys were done, I was left wanting more. I almost forgot about seeing the Black Keys for the first time.

Set list
This House is a Circus
Still Take You Home
Library Pictues
Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair
The View From the Afternoon
I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
Pretty Visitors
If You Were There, Beware
Teddy Picker
Crying Lightning
Suck It and See
Fluorescent Adolescent
Evil Twin
Brick By Brick
R U Mine?

9:45: The lights go out; the crowd screams, and the Black Keys take the stage. Along with Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, the group was joined with a bass player and organist. They took no time to blast out the huge single "Howlin' For You." They continued on to knock out some large fan favorites, without much interaction with the crowd. Auerbach would say, "thanks," but that's about it. He introduced Carney three times throughout the night...three?! Now, I know not all frontmen are Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, but when the opening band connects more with the audience, it kind of loses points for the headliner. The best part of their set was when Dan sent away the backing band and did what all diehard Keys fans wanted: play some old tunes with just the duo. They played four this way: "Thickfreakness" from (obviously) Thickfreakness, "Girl Is On My Mind" from Rubber Factory, "I'll Be Your Man" from The Big Come Up and "Your Touch" from Magic Potion. After these four, the backing band returned for the remainder of the main set. They continued on with rockin' out the house. I don't believe I stopped dancing for a minute. Although, about an hour after they began they called it quits with "Lonely Boy." The Keys took about 10 minutes to return for a two-song encore with "Everlasting Light" and then finished off with just the two of them with "I Got Mine" from (my personal favorite) Attack & Release. They rocked "I Got Mine" into about a six-minute jam, which was quite perfect to end the set.

Now, after such an exciting performance, I'm only giving this show a score of four stars. I just don't understand the short set! Nineteen songs are a lot, but they blended them all together so fast, it felt over before it even began. Also, in all honesty, the Arctic Monkeys out-rocked them. Ah, I hate saying that, but it's true. They were more into their songs, connected with the crowd and seemed more in tune with what was going on. I love the Black Keys and this was a great show, but for the ticket price and arena setting, I expected a little more out of them.

Set list
Howlin' for You
Next Girl
Run Right Back
Same Old Thing
Dead and Gone
Gold on the Ceiling
Girl Is On My Mind
I'll Be Your Man
Your Touch
Little Black Submarines
Money Maker
Strange Times
Nova Baby
Ten Cent Pistol
Tighten Up
Lonely Boy

Everlasting Light
I Got Mine