Saturday, September 04, 2004

The Black Keys

Fleece forcefields and after-beats
Bumbershoot, Seattle, WA

Way before The Black Keys got to the stage at Bumbershoot, the jostling and negotiating that define an outdoor music festival were underway. You may assertively sit on the grass close to the stage, but you are banking on the people in front of you being (a) less than 8 feet tall and (b) unlikely to multiply in number. Then you probably wise up and move up the hill a bit so you can see over heads, but then you are making a rash assumption that all the seated folks in front of you won't stand up themselves. High stakes for those with sore feet.

In my first spot I had to my left a couple with a tiny, shivering Chihuahua who would stand up on his hind legs and box at the air for anyone who made eye contact. To my right was a trio of 60-something folks wearing nice clothes and sitting on a Hefty bag. In my second spot I had to my left two middle-aged Japanese women speaking in stage-whispers and to my right a couple in Tommy Bahama shirts who we will get to later, believe you me.

The standing crowd closest to the stage is 80% male, and there is a surprising crossover of wristbanded fans who are also planning to attend the Nickelback/Puddle of Mudd show later (the line for which was approximately one mile long). The Black Keys' fans declare their alliances with their t-shirts: Fugazi, The Hives, Jimi Hendrix, Radiohead. Collectively they are a living RIYL list.

Once the band starts two fantastic guys install themselves in front of me. One guy is wearing plaid pants, a bright red crocheted hat, pierced lip & septum, and has a bicycle horn dangling from his belt. His friend is tough guy with a t-shirt that has a little devil's trident on the back and directly above it on his neck he has a tattoo of a cross. He is clearly a balanced and evolved individual.

Okay then: the Tommy Bahama people. First, they remain seated while everyone around them stands so they can see the band. Other folks try to get around them but end up tripping on the guy's outstretched legs, which elicits glares from the guy. Finally after forEVER they stand up so they can see too, but they leave their fleece blanket where it is on the ground, taking up valuable real estate. And the thing about Seattle is that people are polite about blankets: the fleece effectively emits a powerful forcefield that causes everyone to either leap over it, gingerly step around it, or change course and go a different direction altogether. Because of their super-powers, only teenagers can break the forcefield.

Dan from the band (whose hair is almost as shiny as Evan Dando's) rocked consistently for the entire show. His voice did not look like it was coming out of a smallish young guy at ALL. They rocked so well that after a few songs some people in the crowd kept moving even after the song was over. Like the beat was so great that it took a bit more time for their bodies to process it out. This is a very, very good sign - that in this crowd, our ears do the hearing, but our bodies to the listening.


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