The Black Keys / Band of Horses / Ceramic Animal @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, St. Louis, MO

Words and photos by Duane Clawson
There are some nights that are just perfect for live rock and roll. This July night in St. Louis with the Black Keys was certainly of those nights. On this night the elements that make for a sometimes-oppressive St. Louis summer took a much needed vacation. It was so perfect in fact I decided to take in most of the Black Keys set from a seat on the lawn. A solid lineup of varied, well-versed musicians graced the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre stage. Even the order the bands appeared on stage was timed almost perfectly.

From the first time I saw the Black Keys live ten-plus years ago, I knew I would be seeing them every chance I got! Seeing them live in 2022 was vastly different from the 2012 version. Back then, just two guys that played aggressive blues music. Today’s Black Keys included Chris St. Hilaire on percussion, Ray Jacildo on keyboard, and brothers Andy and Zach Gabbard on guitar and bass. All of this talent was cemented by the consistency of founding members Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney.

But before we get to the headliner portion of our program, let me tell you about the fellas from Doylestown, Pennsylvania. The bio page on Ceramic Animal’s website identifies their sound as glam, post-punk, psych rock, ’70s pop. Foregoing all the labels, I’m just gonna call them good! With three of their four albums being self-funded, self-produced, and self-released, this band has put in the work. The work paid off handsomely when it caught the attention of Dan Auerbach! This led to the band recording album number four, Sweet Unknown, at Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound studio in Nashville. If musical diversity is your thing, Ceramic Animal has you covered!

If there was a need for a bridge between an opening act and the headliner, Band of Horses certainly completed the span. As Goldilocks put it, 'not too hard, not too soft but just right'. My first Band of Horses experience was at the now defunct LouFest in St. Louis. There, Band of Horses, put on a powerful afternoon performance. I was hopeful that I would see and hear more of the same this time around. Unfortunately, the band had to start off at a disadvantage with keyboardist Ryan Monroe out with Covid. But forging ahead, frontman Ben Bridwell and the rest filled any void left by the missing musician.

Touring in support of Dropout Boogie, their eleventh studio album, the Black Keys still have it! Once you see this band live, you’ll know what the “it” is. Their solid blue-collar sound is derived from a solid core based in Akron, Ohio. As they stroll onstage, it’s evident the Keys are here to work at winning you over. No glitz, no glam, just a great rock and blues band. Putting together solid setlist giving fans old and new something to cheer about. Challenging the 'it has to be this way' theory, the Keys dropped the newly pressed, “Your Team is Looking Good” in the middle of a three-song encore. This strategy played nicely with proven hits, “Lonely Boy” and “Little Black Submarines".

A highlight for all in attendance came midset with the band covering a few selected tunes from their highly acclaimed nod to North Mississippi Blues, “Delta Cream.” And value added, the duo was joined by slide guitar master Kenny Brown for this tribute to their influencers. After seeing the Black Keys for a second time, I can happily report the best Keys are live Keys! A big thanks to Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre and the Black Keys for allowing MTC MAG into their world!

Photos of the show are below:

Ceramic Animals
Band of Horses
The Black Keys
Contributed by Duane Clawson
The Black Keys / Band of Horses / Ceramic Animal @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, St. Louis, MO The Black Keys / Band of Horses / Ceramic Animal @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, St. Louis, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on July 18, 2022 Rating: 5
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