Want to know where to find the cleanest Port-A-Potties? What’s the quickest way from the Google Play stage to the Fender Fan Oasis? Ask Dan Auerbach.
There have now been eight Lollapaloozas in Grant Park. The Black Keys have played five of them—2005, 2007, 2008, 2010 and now 2012. (Six, if you count Dan Auerbach’s solo slot in 2009.) Auerbach is to Lolla what Bradford Cox is to Pitchfork. What in the hell could the bluesy duo possibly do to surprise us at this point? What would the stripped-down Ohioans do to dazzle in a headlining slot? After all, this is a twosome whose notion of ostentatious is adding a bass player.
But, whoa, the Keys’ surprising rise to Biggest Rock Band in America has seen Dan and Patrick transforming into an arena beast. A big LED video screen hangs behind them, showing, um, red. And a shot of the Chicago skyline you could see if you turn around. And, hey, the other two bonus musicians, tucked to the back of the stage, are doing showstopping things like playing a double-necked guitar. Two years ago, the Keys split their set, playing old stuff as a duo and going to a quartet from the T. Rexy gems from Brothers. Now, this is a full-on power foursome. I’ve heard and read skeptics remark this year: What could the little old Black Keys possibly do to fill a basketball stadium with sound, to merit headlining festivals, to wow folks standing 300 yards away?
It’s pretty simple, really. Turn that shit up. Play “I’ll Be Your Man.” Mission accomplished.