The Black Keys, Band of Horses and Ceramic Animal Bring Energy to Jones Beach
By Mike Perciaccante
Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater Wantagh, NY July 22, 2022
The Black Keys were formed in Akron, OH, in 2001 by Dan Auerbach (guitar, vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums). Starting life as an indie band, the duo self-released and self-produced their first records. Originally signed by the indie label, Alive, they released their debut album, The Big Come Up in 2002. The Big Come Up garnered the attention of music critics and got the band signed to a new deal with Fat Possum Records. Auerbach and Carney released their second album, Thickfreakness (Fat Possum Records) in 2003. Their song “Set You Free” which was featured on the soundtrack of the film School of Rock (Atlantic Records, 2002) garnered the pair some mainstream exposure.
After paying their dues in small clubs, twenty years down the road, the Black Keys have become one of the most popular bands, selling out arenas around the world. For the uninitiated, the band’s sound is heavily influenced by that of Auerbach's blues heroes, including Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside. The Black Keys won three awards at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards for the El Camino (Nonesuch Records, 2011) album—Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, and Best Rock Album. The duo’s latest album, their eleventh, the Top-10 Billboard charting, Dropout Boogie was released in Easy Eye Sound/Nonesuch Records in 2022.
The Charleston, SC-based Band of Horses was formed in 2004 in Seattle, WA. Led by singer-songwriter Ben Bridwell (the band's sole constant member throughout numerous line-up changes), Band of Horses has released six studio albums. It received a Grammy nomination for its 2010 release Infinite Arms (Brown Records/Fat Possum/Columbia). Band of Horses’ latest album is Things Are Great (BMG, 2022). The band’s current line-up, in addition to Bridwell, features longtime members Creighton Barrett (drums) and Ryan Monroe (keyboards, guitar, backing vocals), alongside Matt Gentling (bass, backing vocals) and Brett Nash (guitar, backing vocals).
Ceramic Animal is a band of brothers-- Chris Regan (lead vocals, guitar), Erik Regan (drums), and Elliott Regan (vocals, keys), along with childhood friend Anthony Marchione (guitar) and Dallas Hosey (vocals, bass). The Doylestown, PA group’s sound is a mixture of glam rock, post-punk, psych rock, ’70s pop, a touch of the blues, boogie-woogie, funk and good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. The band garnered early attention with its three self-funded, self-produced, and self-released albums. The band’s fourth album, Sweet Unknown (Easy Eye Sound, 2022), was produced by Dan Auerbach, and is a fantastic showcase for the band’s catchy melodies, upbeat guitar riffs and clever lyrics. This up-and-coming charismatic band is one to watch.
On a nice evening at the end of a somewhat steamy Friday in late-July, at the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater on Long Island, roots rock, blues, garage rock, alt-rock, alt-country and general rock ‘n’ roll fans were treated to a great night of music that ranks near the top, if not at the top, of the list for best shows of the summer of 2022.
Ceramic Animal appeared first. Delivering a fantastic set of original tunes, this opening act played like anything but. Its stage presence and musicianship quickly won over those who were lucky enough to settle into their seats early. The band came out breathing fire and brimstone delivering fantastic versions of “Ann Marie,” “I Can’t Wait,” “Valerie,” “Forever Song” as well as a tour de force extended version of “All My Loving.” Dressed to impress (each member dressed in black with various sartorial accents-- Marchione topped off his outfit with a white cowboy hat and dress black & white cowboy boots, Chris Regan’s outfit featured long white fringe running down both arms and white cowboy boots, Elliot Regan changed things up a bit—his pants were black, however his shirt was grey, Erik Regan was barefoot, wore brown-rimmed sunglasses, a dark shirt adorned with stars and a tan cowboy hat and finally, Hosey’s button-down shirt had an almost understated black fringe across the shoulders), Ceramic Animals definitely brought a party atmosphere and kick-ass music to kick-off the evening’s festivities.
Band of Horses was up next. It is a group that always delivers. Although Band of Horses’ down-to-earth set short in length (the performance would have been longer had they been the evening’s headliner), it was long on quality. The five-piece did not disappoint with their brand of relaxed country influenced indie rock. Opening with “Is There A Ghost” from Cease To Begin (Sub Pop, 2007), the alternative-indie rockers had the crowd singing-along from the get-go. Keeping with the audience participation aspect of the show, Bridwell and his cohorts followed with “The Great Salt Lake.” The band’s short high-energy set was highlighted by “No One’s Gonna Love You,” “Crutch” (from Things Are Great), “In A Drawer,” “Laredo” and the band’s calling card/signature tune “The Funeral.”
After an intermission, the audience was awakened from its slumber by a hysterical ‘Anti-Boogie’ video featuring comedian David Cross. Cross’ video touted an organization called Dads Interested in Choosing Our Kids Songs (D.I.C.K.S.). As the founder and head of D.I.C.K.S., Cross’ character pleaded with the viewer to not expose their children to the “demonic” music of the Black Keys. He implored them to avoid seeing the Black Keys on the Dropout Boogie Tour.
After providing the audience with a hearty chuckle, it was time for the main event. In addition to Auerbach on guitar and vocals and Carney on drums, the touring band featured brothers Andy and Zach Gabbard (on guitar and bass, respectively) and the Huntington, NY-born, multi-instrumentalist Chris St. Hilaire. During the main set, the band delivered a multitude of hits, including the two opening numbers “I Got Mine” from Attack & Release (Nonesuch Records/V2 Records, 2008) and “Howlin’ for You," from Brothers (Nonesuch Records, 2010). Other highlights included “Fever,” “Gold On The Ceiling,” a solid version of “Lo/Hi,” “It Ain’t Over,” “Next Girl” and “Ten Cent Pistol.”
Auerbach, who switched between a number of classic and vintage guitars including a white Supro Martinique and a red sunburst Harmony H78 equipped with a Bigsby, played effortlessly and with a contagious joy. He delivered so many iconic guitar riffs that immediately perked the audience’s ears and that even the most casual fans could recognize. Carney played his drums with aggressive conviction and passion all the while pushing the band further along keeping the steady rockin’ and rhythmic beat.
During the main set, the Black Keys also performed a selection of choice blues covers putting their stamp on (among others) “Stay All Night” by Junior Kimbrough, “Goin’ Down South” and “Coal Black Mattie” by R.L. Burnside, John Lee Hooker’s “Crawlin' Kingsnake” and “Have Love, Will Travel” by written and recorded by Richard Berry, but best-known as a Sonics’ tune.
The main set-closers “Wild Child” (from Dropout Boogie) and “She’s Long Gone” brought the crowd to its collective feat as the audience members sensed the end of the show was near. After the band left the stage, the audience remained on its feat clamoring for an encore. Auerbach, Carney and their band did not disappoint. The encores were the anthemic “Little Black Submarines” (which had the audience singing-along) and a rousing version of “Lonely Boy”, from El Camino, which closed the show.
During their show, the Black Keys brought with them and a sense of cool that can only be successfully projected by truly cool and comfortable in-their-own-skin artists. The performance was stellar. The acclaimed Grammy-winning duo rocked the fabled outdoor arena with an energetic set of hits (old and new) with its fans cheering, dancing, jumping and singing throughout the summer night.
Photographs by Christine Connallon