red lights

Still Where It's At

Beck / Dashboard Confessional / The Black Keys
U.I.C. Pavilion
Chicago, IL
June 11, 2003
Beck enjoys the moment.

Story and Photos by Tony Bonyata

Beck has always been a complex artist with many different facets to his music. But now more than every before, his current tour - which stopped off in Chicago last night - is showcasing all of these complexities, career highlights and musical strengths in one highly entertaining package.
It was all here; his early Jagger-meets-James Brown shuckin'-and-jivin' foot work, the hip-hop street beats (albeit the latter now created from the band's own lips on the number "Hot Wax," rather than two-turntables), the big alt-rock hits, such as "Devil's Haircut," "Loser" and "Where It's At," as well as his white-boy funk slathered in hot oils and love butters ("Mixed Bizness," "Get Real Paid" and "Milk & Honey"). But more than anything, it was the harrowing material from his most recent effort Sea Change that left the most lasting impression.
Beck Rather than delivering these newer numbers in their original bare-boned acoustic format - as he did for his wonderfully intimate performance last August in the tiny confines of Evanston's Pick-Staiger Hall - Beck brought along a new band of musicians that added a bit of sinewy muscle to many of these sad yet achingly beautiful songs. Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer (Bicycle Thief, Vincent Gallo) and keyboardist Greg Kurstin (Action Figure Party) added a sparkling effervescence to the country-tinged lullaby "Lost Cause," while bassist Steven McDonald (Redd Kross) and drummer Jay Bellerose (Suzanne Vega, Duncan Sheik) added a ferocious rhythm behind Klinghoffer's cat-in-heat guitar howls on the introspective "Paper Tiger." On "Lonesome Tears" Kurstin's swirling synthetic symphony and innocent, hem-tugging xylophone along with Klinghoffer's threatening guitars, which turned stark raving mad by song's end, also added a new breath of life to this material. But even though Beck has allowed his musicians the freedom to add some meat to the bones of these once sparse songs, the essence of the originals were still fully intact with the singer's deep, longing moans, poignant acoustic guitar, rootsy vignettes of harmonica, along with an acreage of honest, earthy vocals.
This brilliantly played out newer material segued perfectly back and forth with the sorrowful pop send-up of The Flaming Lips' "Do You Realize?" (a song which he dedicated to The Lips, who acted as Beck's backing band on his previous leg of this tour), as well as some of his more upbeat, high-energy numbers. With a delicious full slab of slide guitar, Beck and company blasted through his first hit "Loser," before slipping into the angular funk-filled hot tub of "Milk and Honey" and "Where It's At," where, I swear, at one point Beck was so caught up in the moment he broke into an Elaine Benes dance, which was ugly as hell, but more fun than a barrel of monkeys.
Ending on a high note, the band reemerged for their curtain call clad in futuristic white jumpsuits and tore into a roof-raising version of "Devil's Haircut," before the band climaxed into an orgasmic moment of sonic mayhem.
Opening for Beck were two other bands; one who fit the bill perfectly (The Black Keys) and the other oddly out of place (Dashboard Confessional). While Dashboard Confessional's soppy, self-righteous emo-rock had every female in the house under the age of eighteen shrieking over pretty front-boy Chris Carrabba's over-sensitive whining, it was the Akron, Ohio based band The Black Keys that properly started the evening's affairs. The bass-less duo of Dan Auerbach (guitars and vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums) ripped through a blistering set of gut-bucket blues-rock that mixed the heaviness of early Cream with the hypnotic groove of Delta blues master Junior Kimbrough. Songs performed from their strong second full-length album Thickfreakness, showcased not only Auerbach's deep, gravelly moans over his soul-selling slide guitar work, but Carney's explosive dynamics on his efficient little cocktail kit as well. Definitely a dynamic duo to keep your eyes, and ears, on.

Set List for Beck's June 11th Chicago show
1. Loser
2. Novacane
3. Mixed Bizness
4. Lord Only Knows
5. The New Pollution
6. Get Real Paid
7. Nicotine & Gravy
8. Lazy Flies
9. Guess I'm Doing Fine
10. Do You Realize
11. Lost Cause
12. Lonesome Tears
13. Cold Brains
14. Paper Tiger
15. Hot Wax
16. Sissyneck
17. Milk and Honey
18. Where It's At
19. The Golden Age
20. It's All In Your Mind
21. Sunday Sun
22. Devil's Haircut

Black Keys
The Black Keys
Dashboard Confessional
Black Keys
The Black Keys
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