Jun 14, 2023 - News

Greatest Cleveland concerts: No. 11 – The Black Keys' secret show

The Black Keys perform on stage.

Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach in all their thickfreakness glory. Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

The Black Keys' concert at Beachland Tavern on May 7, 2008, was about getting back to the Akron duo's roots.

Why it matters: The show took place in front of just 150 people, at a time when the band was drawing 1,000-plus at venues around the country.

Flashback: Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney formed The Black Keys in 2001 and played their first show at Beachland on March 20, 2002.

  • "Right off the bat, they had an excitement around them," Beachland co-owner Mark Leddy tells Axios. "It was a different kind of a buzz than most new bands."

The intrigue: By 2008, The Black Keys had signed with a major label and were tapped by MySpace for the social media site's Secret Shows series.

  • Despite their growing popularity, Auerbach and Carney chose the modest Beachland Tavern as an homage to their humble beginnings.
  • Roughly 300 people showed up to try and nab first-come, first-served wristbands for the free gig.

What they did: A lucky 150 people witnessed The Black Keys play 17 songs over 70 minutes, including fan-favorite "Thickfreakness," plus new tunes "Strange Times" and "Psychotic Girl."

The bottom line: "I run into way more people who say they were at that show than could have possibly been there," Leddy says. "It was just one of those special nights."


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Cleveland.

More Cleveland stories