Atypically, despite the jaw dropping double jeopardy long lines which would enable concert goers the right to drink or just sit, not many were fashionably late to the Santa Barbara County Bowl Tuesday night - in fact, many evidently came to see the mop top twin openers, Tegan & Sara. The Canadian folkies helped pack the place along with the headliners, the Black Keys.
Tegan & Sara, played a number of well received folk rock tunes that were often harmoniously screechy as they were ably backed by four dudes. This was their first tour in a while plus they have a new album - "Heartthrob" due out in January. When Tegan told the crowd just how bitchen Santa Barbara was and how they're glad to be working after a year and a half hiatus, one cannot help but ponder the significance of this statement, particularly how it applies to the 99% or even the 47% of the 99%. If we took 18 months off that would be called unemployment and then, homelessness. Musicians do have screwy hours but they get to do what they love - they're so lucky - at least those who are able to make a living in show biz.
It was a t-shirt balmy evening at the bowl, inspiring the Canadian sisters to comment most favorably about our SoCal weather. Great - we knew that - it's crowded enough here already - don't tell a friend. Anyway, far from being dainty folkies, Tegan & Sara are a rock band.
During the free BMW - offered at no cost at almost every concert - that's Basic Monotonous Wait, some KJEE DJ came out shrieking - Fat Jay maybe? Anyway, all I can say about him is that if his station were half as loud as he was, we'd be able to get it in Ventura. Also, bad timing, Fat Jay - after all the "Howzit goin' Santa Barbara" and related clichés, he proved to be a master of poor timing. His pitch was a full 20 minutes before the band started. I was just hoping the Dodgers were winning, but with the season on the line and an obviously used up Chris Capuano on the mound and stiffs like Jamey Wright in the bullpen - what could go wrong?
Also at halftime, there was another unusual occurrence. I was hoping that the background music would not stop - that's right, not stop. Why? It was not the typical cat fight in the machine worst-music-ever reserved for such captive audiences, but rather it was "Satisfaction" from one of the great albums from those silly '60s, "Otis Redding Live In Europe." Those that were listening - well, lucky us.
The Black Keys came out blazing with some rowdy swamp rock somewhat reminiscent of the Gun Club, the Blasters, Japanese Motors and like that. Right off, it was a stand up show, making me regret not bringing rubber bands which are great for handling exuberant dancers in front of you at shows. The crowd responded enthusiastically to the usual Pavlovian commands of "Howzit goin' Santa Barbara" or "Hello, Santa Barbara!"
But there was much more to a Black Keys show that the usual rock platitudes - there were plenty of raggedy and rockin' bluesy guitar driven tunes that were fun for the feet in the area. There even seemed to be decidedly fewer pinheads texting than usual from the first song, "Howlin' For You." This retro rock stuff was good the first time and it's still good now - the band has three Grammys so far and their seventh and most recent album, "El Camino" is a definite keeper.
They're low budget, too - it's two guys out of Akron, but these days out of Nashville - guitar player and frontman Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney - and on tour, a couple of back-up players. Last time at this venue, they opened for Beck - the Black Keys are their own big thing these days.
And finally - know why I hate auto parts stores? First of all working on cars sucks for me as I break them, not fix them. So when they inevitably break, you end up at the auto parts store - many of which have perfected the mind boggling and completely uncalled for ability to make their customers stand in line twice. You stand in line to get your part, then you stand in line again to pay for it.
For some reason, this unreasoning has been transported to the Santa Barbara County Bowl. One begins by standing in line to get the tickets from Will Call., then stand in line again for a gentle groping from security, and then - and this is the big one - stand in line again - either to drink or to get a wrist band allowing you to sit in the seat you already paid for. The line was about halfway to forever and I politely declined. I was fully prepared to walk back to my vehicle, head to Mac's for some burritos and go bond with the Dodgers one final time in 2012. As it turned out, when I got to my section, the kind ushers gave me a proper wristband. Why do they do this? According to the ushers, a wrist band makes it easier on them to keep people from moving to better seats that they did not pay for as opposed to everyone showing their stubs.
Next good one: Snow Patrol, Lissie, and I believe, the New No. 2, a band all fans of "The Prisoner" now love already.