The Black Keys brings masterful blues rock to St. Louis

If you follow The Black Keys on Instagram, then you are undoubtably aware of the fact that they are currently out cruising the country on the Dropout Boogie Tour, promoting their newest album of the same name. You may also be aware of the fact that the band’s Instagram page was recently infiltrated by comedian David Cross, playing fictional character Harry Trousersnake, pushing his hilariously “Crossian” organization “Dads Interested in Choosing our Kids’ Songs”, or D.I.C.K.S. for short. The video, a variation of which played before the show on the giant LED screens, begs the fans who are ironically already in the audience not to go see The Black Keys’ show, which made its fourth stop of the journey in St Louis, MO at the Hollywood Casino Ampitheatre on July 15th. The video further implores those in attendance to “think about the children” and all kinds of other talking-point nonsense, calling any and all of those who don’t attend “honorary D.I.C.K.S” and of course, despite Trousersnake’s most heated arguments, the show kicked off as scheduled and the tour rolled on.

The show was opened up by a band out of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania called Ceramic Animal.

Even though the outfits may say otherwise, these guys focus their music in a more ‘not as country as the hats, sparkles and fringe may imply’ type of category. Their energy drifts more towards the glam rock scene, like David Bowie or Slade… something like a post-punk, psych-rock of the 70s sort of expression. The band even has a tune that, in my mind, could have been created by The Grateful Dead. Helping to create/recreate those signature sounds was the star of the first act, guitarist Anthony Marchione. With the fringe on his sleeves flying everywhere, this musician was able to capture and influence your imagination with his mysterious and slightly odd stage presence, which was totally forgiven by his entertaining and whimsical guitar playing. The range that this band can cover spans quite a few different genres and I really enjoyed getting introduced to them. It was nice having Ceramic Animal totally and completely smash my expectations. They have just released their latest album, Sweet Unknown, which was produced by Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach and is available for streaming everywhere. I encourage you to go check it out. 

Band of Horses kicked off the second set of the night and honestly brought with them a down-to-earth vitality that integrated perfectly into the overall feel of the night. Out in support of their latest album, Things Are Great, Band of Horses typically relies on a fairly relaxed, indie rock type of vibe, however, it was hard not to embrace the abundance of energy coming from the back of the house all of the way to the stage, and not have it influence everything about the performance. The timing couldn’t have been better either. The sun was saying its final goodbye just as Band of Horses, a band that simply feels like sunset to me, was getting started. They filled their role spectacularly preparing the audience for the headliner. 

The Black Keys are GRAMMY Award winners. They have made over seven hit full-length albums and multiple EPs. They have made themselves staples in the blues and rock-and-roll scene. I’d say these college dropouts deserve to boogie as much as they want to, no matter what kind of bullshit Harry Trousersnake and the D.I.C.K.S. try to push your way about the Dropout Boogie Tour. Consisting of Dan Auerbach on guitar and vocals and Patrick Carney on drums, The Black Keys have been creating simplistic and soulful rock music together for over two decades now and their latest album, also called Dropout Boogie, is a conflation of all of the band’s influences over that time. They find ways to drop in grooves of psychedelic persuasion alongside riffs of southern hardships and blues to their already so familiar sound.

It results in a sort of chameleon of an album that takes on whatever it wants you to see, in whatever way it wants you to experience it. 

During the show on July 15th, the duo made sure to play all of their hits. The set started with one of my all-time favorite songs, “I Got Mine”, an influence that probably came after that song helped me pass a project in college. The Black Keys gradually worked their way through some familiar hits, like “Howlin’ for You” and “Gold On the Ceiling” before shifting to a handful of covers the band has been performing lately, including from some all-time greats like Richard Berry and Johnny Lee Hooker. Dan and Patrick crushed these covers before landing back in their own catalog, finishing the night with fan-favorite “Lonely Boy” during the encore. It’s also hard not to mention Patrick’s MeeMaw on stage with him on the front of his drumset, fulfilling her wish to go on tour — a teaspoon of her ashes gets sprinkled at every venue they go to. I think that’s pretty sweet.

The show was one of those bucket list things and it’s nice to finally have it checked off. The Dropout Boogie Tour is still rolling across the country, so if you have a chance to cross this show off of your bucket list, now would be the time! Also, be sure to listen to the new album Dropout Boogie, available for streaming everywhere now. 

Photography by Thomas Semonco

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