Live Show Reviews: Dan Auerbach at Sonar on 11-13-09; White Denim at Rock N Roll Hotel on 11-14-09

Well, I was right, my weekend did kick ass, and I’ve got the bruises to prove it. A few quick notes about the two incredible bands and their shows this past weekend.

1. Dan Auerbach continues to shred with the best of ’em. At one point, he mentioned that he wasn’t feeling so well, so if he just passed out on stage, we’d know why. As much as I love everything Black Keys, if I end up with the swine flu, I will not be a happy camper. If I do catch it, I damn well better get a free copy of Blakroc. I’m just saying.

2. This is the second time I’ve seen Dan doing the solo tour for Keep It Hid. It’s clear that he’s spent time honing the sound, as it’s progressed into a swampy mixture that isn’t necessarily obvious on the CD. Whatever it is, it sounds incredible.

3. Have you ever been to Sonar? That place is in one sketchy neighborhood. I don’t like to make assumptions, but when there’s a full contingent of private security AND cops patrolling the parking lot, I feel like maybe I’m not in the safest of places.

4. That being said, the club itself was pretty nice. I think I saw Jason Lytle play there right after Grandaddy broke up. The acoustics are strong, and the staff seemed friendly to me. If you don’t mind potentially being shot outside, it didn’t seem like a bad club.

5. I wish my iPhone camera took better pictures, as both bands have doppelgangers. Dan’s rhythm guitarist is a dead ringer for a young Steve Cropper and the bassist for White Denim could pass for a young Jerry O’Connell (not quite that pudgy, but he did have a baby face going on something fierce). Neither of these opinions have anything to do with the music, I’m just saying these are some of the things that jump out at me from the audience. Could be all the pain killers I’m on these days.

6. I believe I’ve said it before, but the sound at the Rock N Roll Hotel is some of the worst I’ve ever experienced. I’ve heard better noise production at college keggers. Not only does the place lack decent speakers, the ones they do have are all jammed up front, horrendously distorting the sound in the back. Plus, with all due respect to whoever they have manning the sound booth, you really need to find a new occupation. Every show I’ve seen there it’s the same thing–vocals are terribly underplayed while the instruments drown out everything else. It’s a shame, because some otherwise brilliant vocals have been lost in the murk.

7. White Denim was a lot more jam band-y that I would have figured from just hearing their CDs. While they were by no means Phish-like, there was some open free form action going on up onstage that kind of surprised me. Not saying this is good or bad, just saying it surprised me.

Both shows, as I predicted, rocked my socks off, questionable neighborhoods and sound quality notwithstanding. If you missed these shows, you actually did miss out.

mp3: The Prowl (Dan Auerbach, live on KCRW, 3-16-09)

mp3: Regina Holding Hands (White Denim from Fits)
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