Two rock institutions, The Black Keys and Modest Mouse, returned to the Twin Cities on Saturday night. The groups play decidedly different brands of rock, but have nonetheless both found tremendous success over the past two decades. In Saturday’s show at the Target Center, the two bands, along with opener *repeat repeat, rewarded their patient fans with solid sets all around.
*repeat repeat was an excellent fit as the opener. The Nashville Duo (playing on this night in a five-piece arrangement), were arguably the most pop-friendly band on the rock-heavy bill. Their melodies were strong, and their songs hooky enough to get the arena singing and dancing.
That is not to say they didn’t “rock.” Quite to the contrary, the most surprising part of their set was how guitar-heavy their sound and mix was compared to their very polished latest album, Glazed (which, by the way, was produced by Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney). That combination of propulsive rock guitars and sense of melody served them well on catchy songs like “Girlfriend” and “Head on.” Though they’ve only released a few albums, *repeat repeat, on this night, showed they’re a band to watch.
Modest Mouse would present an entirely different approach. The Portland-based alt-rockers brought a denser sound. Led by singer/guitarist Isaac Brock, the band churned through songs from their deep catalog. This included fan favorites, more recent songs (“Lampshades on Fire” sounded especially good), and deep cuts. They even played mega-hit “Float On,” which was a pleasant surprise.
Though their somewhat tense disposition onstage differed from *repeat repeat’s warmer, more talkative presence, the execution of their arrangements was impressive, and the audience enjoyed it.
The Black Keys was the bluesiest of the bunch. The popular duo (joined onstage by three other musicians), were on tour supporting their latest release, Let’s Rock. The show lived up to that title, featuring ample portions of the bluesy guitar rock for which they’ve become known.
Though Guitarist Dan Auerbach didn’t project a ton of charisma on stage, his playing was gritty, dexterous, and effective. The band stayed in their typical musical lanes for most of the show, but their focused, workmanlike, fan-friendly set quickly won over the audience. The best-received songs, of course, would be the biggest hits from their biggest albums. El Camino smashes “Gold on the Ceiling” and “Lonely Boy” received rapturous receptions, as did the hits from 2010’s Brothers.
Let’s Rock was also represented, including two of the three songs in the encore. Time will tell how the album holds up to the other records in the band’s deep discography, but if Saturday’s reception is an indication, it’s a welcome addition.
Despite the fact that neither Modest Mouse nor the Black Keys has played in town in some time, both bands brought satisfying performances for their respective fanbases.