Though the members of the Arcs, an indie rock group fronted by Black Keys singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach, have played together for a few years now, they just released their debut album, Yours, Dreamily, earlier this year. Though the guys might be new to the market, they didn’t seem like rookies when they made their Northeast Ohio debut last night at Akron Civic Theatre where they emphasized the psychedelic side of their music with some trippy visuals and some heavy jams.
The 90-minute set began with “Stay in My Corner,” one of two songs on the album that make reference to boxing (and the band even released the tune on the day of the Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao boxing match that took place this past May). A tender love song at its core, the song didn't translate perfectly life as its sentiment got lost a bit as the bass and heavy drums dominated the sound mix. That wouldn’t be the case as the night went on. The song sharpened, and the band was able to bring out the nuances of the 15 or so songs it performance.
“Pistol Made of Bones,” a song that sounded like it could have come from a Spaghetti Western soundtrack, commenced with a church-like organ riff that gave it a rather ominous feel, and the retro-sounding “My Mind” benefited from some fervent handclaps courtesy of Mariachi Flor de Toloache, an all-female mariachi group that joined the group on the stage for the entire performance. Singing backing vocals and awkwardly dancing to the tunes, the trio added to the show’s overall energy and contributed to the campy vibe of some of the songs. The fake palms that adorned the stage had that effect as well.
Reverb drenched guitars and pounding drums brought the bluesy “I Want a Holller” to life and a touch of organ distinguished the set-closing “Outta My Mind.” Through it all, vibrant, colorful patterns were projected on the stage behind the group, making it appear as if the concert was taking place in another era. And Auerbach, who regularly jammed and walked the stage to face his bandmates, appeared to have a helluva of a time.
The show marked the return of one of Akron’s native sons as Auerbach, who grew up in Akron, returned to play the city for the first time in years — the Black Keys are so popular, they need to play bigger venues and haven't played in Akron in some time. Dressed in a black leather jacket and jeans, Auerbach embodied the city’s working class ethic and he casually spoke to the fans throughout the night, telling them how good it felt to be home as he made references to hanging out at Summit Mall and frequenting local eateries. It was good to see rock stardom hasn’t made the guy forget his Northeast Ohio roots.