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The Black Keys returned to Coachella with a neighborly hello and operated essentially as they have many times before at the festival, having worked their way up from an obscure Akron, Ohio duo on the smallest stages to a headliner in 2012. The production was bigger, with colorful graphics flashing on the huge screens around them, but the music remained rooted in the band’s commitment to jagged rock and blues. “Let’s get moving,” said singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach, wearing a studded black motorcycle jacket and drilling right into the tortured echo and stutter of “Howlin’ for You,” fleshed out with extra players on bass and heaving organ. But the core duo of Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney frequently stripped things back down to just the two of them, ready to bash through the rawest, hungriest riffs and beats of “Your Touch” and other tributes to swampy blues.
This was a phenomenal performance. Auerbach radiated energy and the the audience responded in kind. It was the perfect balance of performance and appreciation. The music was terrific and the visuals were delightful. The many familiar favorites were played with inventiveness and spontaneity. Nothing was stale. The Black Keys had the entire audience on their feet from the first song to the last. All in all this was the most enjoyable concert experience I’ve ever experienced.