Concert review: Black Keys, Cage the Elephant at Forecastle, July 10

 

By the time Friday's Forecastle headliner, the Black Keys, took the stage at 11 p.m., the rain had cleared Lousiville's Riverfront Belvedere, leaving the air thick, dense and sluggish. Pretty Lights lightened the sticky air with a few trip-hop and electronic tracks that got the people on their feet and dancing, but we all wanted something more.

The Black Keys delivered, bringing the house - er, park - down with a relentless, bone-crushing hour and fifteen minutes of crunch and reverb. Their stage manner matches the instrumentation: simple and pared-down. Bringing only two guitars and one set of tubs with them, the Keys mumbled a few words of thanks and introduction, then ripped into fan and personal favorite, "Thickfreakness."

I'm always surprised that two skinny white guys from Akron, Ohio have so much soul. Now on their sixth full-length album since 2002, the band pulled heavily from Thickfreakness and Attack & Release, holding newer material near the end of their set. They encored with "Psychotic Girl" and "Till I Get My Way," vocalist Dan Auerbach giving "Girl's" creepy banjo line new life on guitar.

Cage the Elephant made a great first impression in their first-ever festival gig earlier in the evening. Hailing from Bowling Green, Kentucky, and now based out of East London, England, the five-piece kicked off the West Stage performances with a crazed, sweaty, rip-snorter of a set, playing material off of their self-titled album released last year. Their furious, crunchy guitar sound seems to fuel the howling vocals of lead singer Matt Shultz, who vacillates between growling and out-and-out screaming with ease. Famous for their chaotic stage show and antics, the band spent most of the set shoving each other around.

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