Hello, friends, and welcome to “The Annotated Road Taken,” Episode 1! The Road Taken podcast is an investigation into the mystiques and realities of the life of a touring musician, as told by the touring musicians themselves like me and my Vampire Weekend bandmate Chris Baio. We’ll be gathering a number of unique perspectives, and even though I fancy myself a semigrizzled vet (peep the beard), I have been consistently schooled by the depth and breadth of our guests’ experiences.
Now, whenever I read a book about music or listen to a music podcast, I spend a lot of time pausing and searching for whatever performance or song is being mentioned. For The Road Taken, I figured I’d cut out the search engine and compile videos, photos, and links that pair with the highlights we get into. On Episode 1, we talk to Patrick Carney of the Black Keys, so that means a lot of Black Keys content!
Patrick is one of the vibiest and most honest musicians I’ve ever met. He has found incredible success with the Black Keys but still finds time to produce and perform in many other awesome projects. Also, he’s a straight-up great dude—warm and funny—which makes him the ideal debut guest.
Let’s get into it!
Future episodes of The Road Taken With CT and Baio will include dispatches from Vampire Weekend’s tour all over the world, as well as conversations with musicians including Winston Marshall (Mumford & Sons), Laura Marling, Havoc (Mobb Deep), and many others. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.
14:47 “Only time we ever really rehearsed was that summer…”
Here’s a picture from the Beachland Tavern (where Vampire Weekend also played our first few shows in Cleveland) of what was presumably a very rehearsed Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys. Not sure if it’s still available, but back in 2007 that place had an excellent deep-fried PB and J for only $4.
15:20 “We rehearsed for three days in 2010…”
Here are the Black Keys opening for Pearl Jam at Madison Square Garden, fresh off of three days of rehearsals with the expanded four-piece lineup. They sound good! Watch “Everlasting Light,” plus one of the first-ever performances of their soon-to-be monster hit “Tighten Up.”
16:35 “Our first show with those songs was on SNL…”
All it took was two days at SIR (Studio Instrument Rentals) on 25th Street in New York to get their songs in SNL-shape. Watch the episode here.
16:46 “Rehearsed for two or three days here in Nashville and then we went and played SNL...”
Again, they sound great here. I would have guessed that they had spent way longer rehearsing. Bonus: They did a great job with their promo shoot as well. In my experience, performing on SNL has been the most nerve-racking gig of all. The weight of the show’s history, the pressure of only having one shot, the conceptual craziness of being there; it’s essentially a real, live “Lose Yourself” situation.
19:48 “You know Mandalay Bay; there’s a big pool…”
No content seems to exist from this performance, but it does look like an interesting and potentially weird place to play a gig.
22:29 “At one point in 2015 I broke my shoulder…”
23:24 “I got really spun out on stage…”
It looks like the “spin-out” Patrick mentions happens, maybe, around 4:24? Sounds like some momentary snare confusion but hardly anything to get existential over (I’ve done way worse). Godspeed, young Patrick. You won’t fuck it up.
25:52 “Go see this hypnotist, this guy in Santa Monica…”
30:30 “A record deal on the table through Seymour Stein…”
Seymour Stein is a music-industry legend best known for signing Talking Heads, the Ramones, and Madonna among many others, but he didn’t get that Black Keys’ contract in the mail on time apparently.
36:08 “We used to get the Rand McNally atlas…”
If one so chooses, one could still travel like the pre-smartphone-era Black Keys with the 2020 atlas, on sale now!
37:43 “There’s a good bar there…”
The main stop on the Patrick Carney tour of Louisville!
38:39 “We opened up The Stranger…”
The Stranger is a legendary alt-weekly that is still an incredible source for all-things Seattle. I couldn’t find the show preview (what the heck was on p. 29?!) that led to the good ticket sales, but here is a very positive review of that show. Plus, here’s the poster for Patrick’s favorite early-years Black Keys show.
39:23 “Worst show we ever played was the next night at the Satyricon…”
The Satyricon is a now-defunct club in Portland, Oregon, and Dan Auerbach agrees with Patrick on this “worst show” designation (see paragraph 7). Here’s a contemporaneous preview from the Portland Mercury, Portland’s alt-weekly, as well...
45:02 “We got home from the tour April 10…”
That is, indeed, a few days after the record came out. Good memory, Patrick!
48:50 “We were supposed to go to Australia in January…”
But they didn’t! I have a lot of respect for a very accurate press release explaining the cancellation.
Got a Michael Barbaro–level reaction from my guy Baio right here.
1:11:16 “Seventy-five hundred people showed up and just lost their minds…”
This Portland, Maine, show was one of Patrick’s favorites from the last few Black Keys tours. Dan seems to agree here in real time! The crowd does seem super-hyped.
1:11:27 “We played a show in Greece in 2015, right before their referendum…”
Another memorable show for Patrick.
1:11:48 “We were like, ‘It’s time to take a break. It’s time to take a break’…”
The last song from the pre-hiatus Black Keys at the Outside Lands festival in San Francisco.
1:16:29 “That first round of rehearsals went really, really well…”
Yes they did! Here’s a tune from the Black Keys’ first show in over four years at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. I was lucky enough to be at this show and honestly thought it was great. Check them out when they come to your town on their Let’s Rock tour.