As a diehard fan of live music, I’ve been going out to see shows for years now. Certainly I’ve dished out many-a-high fives to strangers after hearing the song I’d been hoping to hear live. I’ve stood in amazement at small bars and large halls watching as the night’s musicians captivated everyone in attendance. You’re damn right I’ve joined countless other concert goers in drunken shouts for an encore – that’s what watching a concert is all about! You get to witness a performance that will never happen again and enjoy it with friends and strangers alike! It’s awesome in my opinion – one of the most enjoyable things in life.
Somewhere along the way I started bringing my camera to capture some of these epic moments, yet I was never able to shoot my favorite band of the modern era: The Black Keys. It’s odd too because I grew up 20 minutes outside of Akron, OH, and have seen Pat and Dan play many many times – from free outdoor shows in their hometown and nearby college campuses to historical venues such as San Francisco’s The Fillmore.
However, this all changed on June 10, 2010, when I had the privilege of shooting their show at the Pageant in St. Louis, MO, for a local publication. Yeah, sure it was the same idea as the many shows that I have previously taken my camera to: try and get some good images of the band, capture the moment as it is happening, and have a kick ass time regardless. But this wasn’t really the same – it was the Black Keys for chrissakes! It was the band from back home that fuckin’ made it! The Ones who I’ve been rockin’ out to since the days of The Big Come Up! The two dudes who make music that I’m proud to crank the volume up to Twelve and give a fist pump out the car window…all the while singing out of key at the top of my lungs! I had the opportunity to photograph the Black Keys and I was fucking amped!
And let me tell you it was definitely every bit as cool as I thought it was going to be. Although I had to maneuver throughout the photo pit on crutches because of a broken leg, and deal with nearly falling on my ass every time I stood to snap a shot, it was well worth it. Not only was I able lean on the stage to take photos of the boys for the first few songs, but I also got to get smacked right in the face with that wicked engulfing sound that comes out with the very first note of Thickfreakness. That shit is sick! – no matter where you are in the crowd. During that same song I had an unobstructed view of Dan doing a moonwalk type shuffle across the stage as he filled the room with nasty thick tastes of what every guitar shredder in the room wanted to hear! UnFuckingBelieveable!!
Minutes later I’m in front of Patrick’s kit watching him beat the shit out of the drums on 10am Automatic. To hear it on your stereo speakers is one thing, but to feel that pulsating rhythm in a room of 2,400 rowdy motherfuckers is something entirely different. And here I was inches away from him, watching one of the most under appreciated drummers of today deliver gut punching magic with each drop of his heavy hands. I was floored. Absolutely stunned, and so caught up in the moment that I had to remind myself to get behind the lens and capture these moments.
For the first five songs I stood there, a broken legged photographer, soaking up all of this beautiful sweaty funkiness. All the while, never afraid to act like a proud Black Keys supporter. That’s right – with camera in hand I was fist pumping in unison with the crowd as Patrick pounded out the backbeat. Not hesitating to scream out “Fuck-Yeah” when Dan stood at the edge of the stage, hovering over me, laying down his undeniable dirtiness for the very appreciative crowd. You can bet your ass that 15 songs later I was lost somewhere in the crowd, high-fiving the gal next to me, and yelling wildly for the band from back home to give us just a couple-a-more heaping spoonfuls of their energy and creativity to chew on for the rest of the night. Like all of the great bands do, the Black Keys walked back on stage, took hold of their instruments, thanked the crowd for their ferociously loyal support, and continued to fucking Rock-n-Roll!
Long Live the Black Keys!