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Monthly Archives: April 2012

I’ve only been to a handful of arena-level concerts in my life – the sorts that fill up basketball arenas and warrant ticketing services from Ticketmaster or Live Nation. Off the top of my head, I can only recollect Radiohead, Blink 182 and Lil Wayne – artists whose fame and influence simply can’t be contained by small to midsize music venues.

I was slightly apprehensive about seeing The Black Keys headlining their own arena tour. I love that band, but basketball arenas hold a lot of people. When I think Madison Square Garden – I think Foo Fighters and Lady Gaga and LCD Soundsystem (RIP). I acknowledge The Black Keys’ exponential rise in fame (which I correlate to the release of their fantastic 2010 album, Brothers), but I wasn’t sure how they’d fare in a basketball arena.

Turns out – they fare just fine. I have only seen The Black Keys perform at massive festivals like Austin City Limits and Outside Lands; at said festivals, common symptoms that affect attendees involve sunstroke, lethargy and shortened attention spans oftentimes induced by judgment impairing substances.

But The Black Keys did not shy away from the big stage at the Frank Erwin Center last night – they completely embraced it. The Black Keys soaked in the strobe lights and balcony seats and captivated the entire audience throughout the entire set, which lasted well over an hour.

The band mostly performed tracks from Brothers and El Camino, but dabbled with older material from their catalog –Thick Freakness, I Got Mine and Strange Times being crowd-pleasing favorites. They also split time performing as a full-bodied band with keyboard and guitar and playing songs as the unstoppable iconic duo that they are. It’s impressive how two individuals are capable of creating so much noise and sustaining so much energy, but The Black Keys looked like seasoned professionals and sounded like it too.

The band certainly didn’t skimp on production value either. A/V quality was over the top – strobe lights, stage lights, cop lights, flash lights, spotlights, streetlights – all of the lights. I didn’t think their encore could top the high-energy closer, Lonely Boy, but when the band opened the encore with my favorite Black Keys song, Everlasting Light , accompanied by an enormous disco ball reflecting lights and colors across the entire stadium – I was teleported back to a better time. The sweet melody and production reminded me of a slow-dance at a high school prom. But better yet, it reminded me of listening to the first few notes of the very first track of Brothers for the very first time – and I loved that moment.

Hiatus is an understatement in this case, but today I’m reinstating the once weekly updated “Top 5” post, which summed up a week of music, film, books and food. Though this week was a great one, I hope you’re all looking forward to the weekend as much as I am. Happy Friday y’all.

SUNDAY: I flew home to Dallas and surprised my family for Easter and finally met the newest member of my family, 2-month old Benjamin. Benji here is a hefty 15 pounds, but he’s also a remarkably good-natured and happy baby who lets strange, nervous 24-year-old relatives like myself hold and feed him.

MONDAY: I witnessed history on Monday night. By a sheer stroke of luck, I was in the right place at the right time (Twitter, around noon on Saturday) and was one of the few fortunate Austin residents who obtained an At The Drive-In ticket before they completely sold out in less than 10 minutes. Monday night’s performance at Red 7 was the first show the band played in 11 years and the energy and anticipation was completely palpable. Blink-182 did it. At The Drive-In did it. Who’s next? Please say it’s The White Stripes!

TUESDAY: Alabama Shakes is hands down one of the up-and-coming bands of the year and their bluesy, folky, southern rock sound is super raw and simple, but unbelievably good. They remind me of Janis Joplin intertwined with The Black Keys. Their long-awaited album launched on Tuesday and “Hold On” is such a fantastic single. I dare you not to like it.

WEDNESDAY: The Raid: Redemption is one of the most intense, thrilling and action-packed martial arts films I’ve ever seen. I’d argue that it’s the best action film I’ve ever seen. The trailer below provides a glimpse of the level of violence in the film and the extraordinary talent and athleticism these actors/fighters have. The plot was your classic relentless crime lord vs. underdog cop story complete with guns, drugs and man-to-man combat. Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park composed the soundtrack too and his dark and disturbing score equally matched the intensity of the scenes. Stream below!

THURSDAY: Austin Parks Association and The Alamo Drafthouse recently started a delightful springtime series of free Movies in the Park. My friend Molly and I killed an entire bottle of wine while watching one of my favorite films from 2011, “Midnight In Paris” by Woody Allen.