The Black Keys, one of the largest rock bands in the world, just playing two back-to-back sold out arena-sized shows at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Just prior to their huge shows, the blues-driven buddies from Akron, Ohio entertained an intimate audience with their sultry rock riffs on songs like “Howlin’ For You,” “Lonely Boy,” and “Gold On The Ceiling” and their sardonic repartee for Breakfast with Kevin & Bean.
Although the pair have won GRAMMY Awards and performed with some of the hugest names in music, the Black Keys don’t really care how big the space they play is; it’s the excitement of the audience that counts.
Drummer Pat Carney jokes that he’s excited to play Chili’s–the band are playing their first gigs “south of the Border” including Lollapalooza Chile and Brazil–and that he’s also playing a “Staples and an Office Max next week.”
When an audience member asked him what his favorite show has been, frontman Dan Auerbach said that they had just played their “best show ever” in Portland, Maine where the audience went “ape bananas.”
Much of the Black Keys’ attitude can probably be attributed to their years of just being a small, marginally-popular “indie” band. They had an underground cult following and might have heard their songs on radio stations in places like rural Oregon, but the Black Keys didn’t reach widespread popularity until the middle of their career.
Auerbach told a story about how their first show they only got paid ten bucks; a second show was requested at the same place, but for that they got nothing. The band joked how a rental house they recorded in is worth less now, and how their El Camino— is the basis for the cover and title art of their latest album–racked up massive mileage and was basically their hotel room.
When it was given away, the El Camino had about 178,000 miles on it with over 100,000 of those miles being the product of year and a half of touring on the Black Keys’ part. They’d take Carney’s underage brother on the road with them and he’d hang out “outside places like the Casbah and got made fun of in San Diego.”
“Pat’s brother would come along with us to not help us at all,” laughed Auerbach dryly, recalling how most of the time it was just them. “The van was the hotel room. We’d sleep in rest areas which are awesome…Just two dudes hanging out in rest areas in the middle of the night.”
Auerbach then made Carney tell a story about an instance that “Pat got really scared one time going into the bathroom.”
“My brother Mike and I actually walked in and Dan was asleep,” said the recent newlywed who had his wedding officiated by Will Forte aka MacGruber. “There was a guy walking out who looked really kind of scary and there was a guy in there with his pants down crying.
“You asked, I told you,” replied the drummer when the audience cringed. Carney, almost as infamous for his hilariously absurd tweets as he is for his masterful drumming, had a lot of random zingers through the Breakfast with Kevin & Bean.