Monday, November 9, 2009

Dan Auerbach – November 8 at Le National

Apparently Le National is a tough venue to fill. Not even post-Veckatimest Grizzly Bear could accomplish the feat this past June, and though the Auerbach-adoring crowd certainly showed its affection throughout Sunday night's show, there was still a little too much room to groove on the down-sloping floor. Plus, it didn't help that the extra white lights – strung in an 'X' from the sound booth to the back of the stage – brought attention to the fact by over-illuminating the room, making it feel like the end of the show several times throughout. Nevertheless, the set was a well-rehearsed, loud-as-hell re-ordered rendition of Keep It Hid, opening with a tender "Trouble Weighs a Ton" brought to life by harmonies shared at the mic.

At a Black Keys show at La Tulipe three years ago, I remember Auerbach providing more than enough guit-gusto through two Marshall stacks – his highs running through four 12-inch speakers and his low-end through eight of them – so I was interested to see how he'd maneuver the stage with five other players, including two drummers. The band certainly put on a good show, but it didn't convince me that the Keys' two-man show is significantly lacking numbers.

The sound was at times clear as a bell – or, in the Fast Five's case, shakers, tambourines, and a triangle – though at others the onslaught of unified fuzz was a little much, making it hard for lead guitars to cut through the mix. Auerbach seemed to remedy the problem by adding an inordinate amount of distortion on some solos, fighting off his own noise as if the band's wasn't the main barrier to him getting heard.

Spending much of the set establishing rolling, mid-tempo grooves drenched in organ, faster tracks ("My Last Mistake") came as a welcome, crowd-pleasing relief. Regarding the former, "Street Walking" was definitely a highlight, as was the let's-get-this-party-started "I Want Some More." A good time, but right now I'm more excited for Drummer.

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