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."

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