They might be originally from Akron, Ohio, but The Black Keys have adopted Nashville as its new hometown.
In fact, while on stage at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday night, lead singer Dan Auerbach signed off the set by saying, “We are The Black Keyes, the band from right down the road.” After rising to fame, the duo moved to Franklin in 2010.
Despite being neighbors, it had been a while since Music City was able to see Auerbach and his bandmate Patrick Carney perform together in front of a live crowd.
Following the release of the band’s 2014 album “Turn Blue,” the duo went on tour together, even performing to a sold-out Bridgestone Arena. However, shortly after, in 2015, the pair decided to take a hiatus, each wanting to explore their own individual projects.
For Auerbach, the Keys’ guitarist, he went on to release a pair of solo albums. He then formed The Arcs, which performed shows at Ryman Auditorium and at the Pilgrimage Music and Arts Festival in 2016, which happened to take place in Auerbach’s backyard in Franklin.
Carney, on the other hand, kept relatively quieter on his end. Just like Auerbach, he worked with artists in the studio, helping them with releases.
In fact, one of those bands opened for The Black Keys on the “Let’s Rock Tour” this past Tuesday at Bridgestone Arena. Carney worked with *repeat repeat on its solo debut. The Nashville based band performed a roughly 30-minute set, getting the crowd warmed up. Though majority of those on hand were unfamiliar with the duo’s work, it seemed like they had garnered the support of the audience on hand.
Following that, Modest Mouse took the stage, as frontman Isaac Brock took center stage, wearing a new Predators jersey, which had been given to the band by the staff at Bridgestone Arena.
“When a man is given a hockey jersey, you must wear it,” Brock told the Nashville crowd midway through the band’s set. “And, I don’t have a team. So f- it, Nashville is my team, I decided today.”
For the majority of its set, Modest Mouse performed what felt more like a jam session than what was billed as co-headlining set. The audience felt that at times as well, sort of drifting off.
To Godfather-esque style, Modest Mouse was able to pull the audience back in, hitting the crowd with fan favorites. As the opening notes of “Float On,” rang out, fans stood up, rushing to get their phones out of their pockets so they could hit record and do who knows what with those videos.
After that hour-long performance though, it was time for the headliners. The Black Keys returned to Nashville, leading off with an older, bluesier track, “I Got Mine.” As the band stood took the stage, a marque in the background was hanging with the band’ name, as if the audience had no idea who they were there to see.
Most of Tuesday night’s performance felt like a reconciliation in some ways. As they ripped through their older work, big hits and newer tracks, it really felt like The Keys were enjoying being back on stage.
Maybe that feeling was due to knowing a large portion of the audience on Tuesday night. In fact, at one point during the 90-minute performance, Auerbach joked that the band would be making no money from the set at Bridgestone Arena.
“There are so many friends and family here, we are losing money,” Auerbach told the audience.
Even if the band didn’t make a dime from Tuesday’s show, it felt like both Auerbach and Carney were having fun on stage. After the third song, that marque disappeared and a curtain, revealed a bigger, more elaborate backdrop for The Black Keys, which featured an ample amount of light as well as a large video screen, which lit up the arena.
Those lights and board provided some cool effects for the rest of the night, including during the band’s encore. After leaving the stage following smash hit “Lonely Boy,” off of 2011’s “El Camino,” Auerbach, Carney and the rest of the backing band returned the stage – but not before some added theatrics.
This past summer, the band released its latest album, “Let’s Rock,” which had cover that featured an electric chair. That chair would make an appearance, hovering above the Nashville stage, with the lights flickering as if it had been electrified.
It made for a cool little scene, as the band headed back to perform “Lo/Hi,” the first single off the band’s newest record. The Black Keys closed out the night with another track off that album, hitting the crowd with “Go,” before concluding with “She’s Long Gone,” off of 2010’s “Brothers.”
As the band left the stage, a couple next to me wondered when the next time that they would perform in Music City. If Tuesday’s show was any indication, Nashville fans would appreciate it being sooner than later.