Maybe I was expecting too much of the show, this Black Keys performance at The Joint on New Year’s Eve. As if they’d somehow top Stevie Wonder’s barn-burner at The Cosmopolitan last year. But neither Dan Auerbach nor Patrick Carney seemed all that stoked to be there. I have comparisons (Marquee in 2011, Coachella in 2012). I’ve seen them hungry. This time they seemed overfed. None of the hits really hit. Don’t get me wrong, they played ’em: “Howlin’ For You,” “Little Black Submarines,” “Gold on the Ceiling,” “Tighten Up,” “Lonely Girl,” et al. And they were still fun. Rugs were cut. But the charm of The Black Keys, the raw energy, the musical connection between Auerbach and Carney, the sheer strength of a couple of janitorial-looking Ohioans fucking burning that mother down, was somewhere else that night, even during the last seconds of 2012.
Turns out, that energy was hiding in opener Divine Fits. The quartet, which includes Spoon’s Britt Daniel, New Bomb Turks drummer Sam Brown and Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner, was downright starving. Daniel and Boeckner comfortably traded the spotlight all set, with the most in-the-pocket drumming of the year courtesy of Brown. And the power of the writing, featured prominently on 2012’s A Thing Called Divine Fits, made the stage, which could host a fourth-grade track and field event, feel completely full. We’d gladly go check them out again. The Black Keys, too, of course. But after they’ve gone hungry for a couple days. MAX PLENKE