Legendary Shack Shakers – Philadelphia – North Star Bar, PA – 2003-05-17

Legendary Shack Shakers
Where: Philadelphia – North Star Bar, PA.

When: 2003-05-17

The Black Keys are a new favorite band of mine, and I had been waiting as patiently as possible for them to come to Philadelphia and play. I heard they were going to be doing some spring and summer dates opening for Beck and figured hope was lost as I was not at all interested in paying $50 to see them in some huge amphitheater. Luck would have it that the Black Keys decided to do some of their own headlining dates at small clubs in between shows with Beck, and Philly was going to be one of their stops. Though I’m the type of person who usually just pays at the door, I actually bought my Black Keys tickets the day they went on sale just to make sure I’d be able to get in. I really didn’t want to miss this show, and at $8 a piece I couldn’t argue with the price.

The Legendary Shack Shakers are a band I had never heard of, and I’ll admit we actually arrived to the North Star quite late thinking we’d miss their set. They hadn’t even taken the stage by the time we got there, but after seeing their performance I’m glad we didn’t miss them. The Shack Shakers are from Tennessee and they play some seriously rowdy rockabilly that reminded me quite a bit of the Reverend Horton Heat, so it came as no surprise later to find out that they’ve actually done some dates opening for them. Other than some good rock n’ roll, the Shack Shakers have a frontman that really gives an all-out performance and kept the crowd laughing. They got a lot of applause from the audience, which is a rare thing for Philly – we’re known for booing everyone or at least doing our best to be totally disinterested – but everyone seemed into the show.

The Black Keys took the stage around 12:30 am or so and launched right into their set with no fanfare. Since there is only two of them, they positioned the drum kit on the left side of the stage with drummer Patrick Carney facing guitarist/singer Dan Auerbach and Auerbach facing the audience. I’m not sure Carney looked up from his drums at all, and he seemed almost unaware of the audience to his side. Auerbach didn’t interact with the audience much either, but in both cases it wasn’t a bad thing. They were just up there on the stage pouring every ounce of themselves into their music, and it showed. The energy was amazing, and they both played with an intensity I haven’t seen in awhile. With only two albums to their credit, including Thickfreakness which was just released in April, they played just about every song imaginable including crowd pleasers like “Yearnin’,” “Them Eyes,” and “She Said, She Said.” Yes, that last one is a cover of the Beatles song, and the Keys do a wonderful version of it.

The Black Keys played like nobody’s business for well over an hour, and I couldn’t have been happier. They sound the same live as they do on their albums, which is a huge plus in this day and age of studio tinkering. What you hear on their albums is what you get live, which is the way it should be. The Keys play some of the best bluesy rock n’ roll out there at the moment, and they’re a band that shouldn’t be missed. I don’t know that I’d recommend seeing them on a big tour like Beck’s, but if you can catch them in a smaller venue like the North Star I’d highly recommend getting to the show at all costs.