JIM WELTE. Writer. Editor.

Dan Auerbach at Bimbos, SF – 3.13.09

By:  | published on March 18, 2009

Courtesy of Dan AuerbachDan Auerbach
March 13, 2009 at Bimbo’s, San Francisco

Side projects rarely turn into much more than the work of idle hands. For every successful act launched by a musician who already had a “day job”—the Raconteurs, the Breeders, and the Tom Tom Club come to mind—there are countless solo outings that amounted to puzzling missteps (Zack de la Rocha, we’re looking at you). With his debut solo album, the just-released Keep It Hid, and a barnstorming US tour, Black Keys’ guitarist/singer Dan Auerbach has put himself firmly in the category of artists who make music that will stand the test of time, regardless of who’s behind them.

At a sold-out show at Bimbo’s 365 Club in San Francisco, Auerbach showed off a batch of songs that were steeped in the blues and early rock. He was backed by San Antonio rock quartet Hacienda, with My Morning Jacket drummer Patrick Hallahan joining them on percussion. It was clear from the outset that the night would be something of a departure from the Keys’ distortion-laden, raw hill-country blues. The set opened with “Trouble Weighs a Ton”, a beautiful, gospel-inflected ballad about hard times.

Auerbach hasn’t abandoned the blues on Keep It Hid—he’s simply expanded on the Keys’ sound, allowing him to stretch his wings and show off both nimble songwriting and a wonderful voice. On a cover of “I Want Some More”, he growled mischievously, “I’m just a kid in your walk-in candy store / Oh oh oh I want some more.” Tracks like “The Prowl” and “Mean Monsoon” were grounded in the blues but with added textures, with the latter drenched in humid ‘60s-era psychedelia.

On the sweet, moving “Goin’ Home”, Auerbach stepped firmly out of the grit. “I want the sun to hit my face / Through oak trees in the open lot / Forget about the things you want / Be thankful for what all you got.” As the crowd swayed, it was clear that Auerbach may just have found himself a second day job.

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