When a band features two drummers, a keyboardist, a bassist, a chorus line from an all female mariachi band, and a lead singer who shreds his guitar in a state of estatic bliss, you know you’re in for something more. Something alive. Something visceral.
Dan Auerbach’s project, The Arcs, because it is clearly no one else’s, is raucous and funky and unique in ways that are not just about music, but about life. Living to the fullest. Not giving a shit what anyone else thinks. Crying out “this is who I am, thank you coming, but I’ll still enjoy what I do, whether you do or not.”
That The Arcs exist, is a testament to Auerbach’s need to create, to express himself passionately, to find outlets where he can bare his soul, and experiment musically outside of The Black Keys.
And The Black Keys are great. I’ve seen them three times already (unfortunately, most recently at the first Firefly Music Festival), so I was intrigued to discover what The Arcs were all about. What they represented in comparison and in contrast.
The Arcs still have Auerbach’s garage rock and blues sensibility, with his unmistakable voice. It would not be a stretch to mistake The Arcs’ sound for The Black Keys.
They started the show with, “Stay In My Corner”, a plea to not lose sight of the love of two people. I also read that Auerbach got the idea for the song during the recent Pacquiao-Mayweather fight.
Then they played a notably raucous song, “Bad Girl”, where the lament croons, “sorry for the man that loves a girl like you.”
The stage pulsated with funky lights and energy amid a perceptible theme of western attire and Mexico’s Dia de la Muerte. A stylized skull is the album artwork, and the ladies of Mariachi Flor de Toloache, a mariachi band (who both opened the concert and held court as the lilting back-up singers) continue the theme. The whole ensemble melds together perfectly, but then takes a back-seat when Auerbach segues into a trance-like guitar jam session during “Pistol Made of Bones”, heavy on the reverb, heavy on the funk.
The Arcs played 16 songs for the packed 9:30 Club.
The highlight of the set may have been, “My Mind”, a body moving single not found on their first album, Yours, Dreamily,. “My mind tells me things I’d never say, my mind is an awful way to lead the day.”
A song that is on their album, the psychedelically charged, “Outta My Mind” (do we sense a theme here?), ended the main set, before they closed the show with two encore songs. The final song, “Velvet Ditch”, is a truly soulful groove which left the crowd content, at least for the day, that they had found their Dan Auerbach fix.
The Arcs played two shows at the 9:30 Club, showcasing just how ready people were to experience this side-project. Their tour wraps up on Sunday (December 20th) in Nashville, but hopefully if you missed them this time, the opportunity will come again soon.