Comparisons to The White Stripes may be fair, but The Black Keys are their own act. To be entirely honest, hearing “Strange Times” by The Black Keys made “Conquest” by The White Stripes sound gimmicky. The burn of Dan Auerback’s guitar made Jack White sound like a sellout who gave up on garage rock.
Without a doubt, The Black Keys commanded the Carnival stage and caused a one-night Carnegie Mellon campus frenzy. Heavy on the attack and somber on the release, Auerback played his guitar with a slow and unrelenting burn that exchanged heavy rock riffs for solemn blues melodies. All the while, Patrick Carney beat his heart out on the drums. The two-man act gave a performance that could only be described as absolutely enthralling.
Of course, the show started low on energy; Carnegie Mellon tends to bring the most lethargic crowds. But 15 minutes into their set, The Black Keys had people jumping and kicking with excitement. The energy was amorphous and ecstatic; it came out of nowhere. The Black Keys might have given Carnegie Mellon its first genuine mosh pit.
Last year, the crowd didn’t chant for The New Pornographers to give an encore, but this year the crowd didn’t give The Black Keys an option. With the words “One more song!” echoing through Wiegand Gym, leaving the stage must have seemed impossible for Auerback and Carney. Personally, I wished the night could have lasted three days longer.