Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Arcs at the Bowery Ballroom

Dan Auerbach
Dan Auerbach was born in Akron, Ohio, where he became the captain of his high school soccer team. His mother, a French teacher, took him to see his first concert, Whitney Houston, and his dad, an antiques dealer, took him to his second concert, the Grateful Dead. Auerbach's greatest musical inspirations, however, were the uncles who played bluegrass and his dad's collection of blues albums. Auerbach's first notable band was the Barnburners, a blues-based band that performed in Northeast Ohio clubs and released a six-track EP. Success came with the minimalist blues-rocking and Grammy-winning duo the Black Keys, formed in 2001 with drummer Patrick Carney. In 2009, Auerbach released a solo album. Auerbach now also leads the Arcs, with keyboardist/saxophonist Leon Michels, drummers Richard Swift (of the Shins) and Homer Steinweiss, bassist Nick Movshon, guitarist Kenny Vaughan, and Julie Justine Acosta, Mireya Ramos and Shae Fiol, the three-piece all-female Mariachi Flor de Toloache. The Arcs released a debut album, Yours, Dreamily, on September 4, 2015.

The Arcs started as a solo project for Auerbach, and at the Bowery Ballroom tonight the band orbited around him. The musicians contributed heartily and filled out the songs with solos, but front person Auerbach was the singer and spotlight on each song. Nevertheless, Auerbach embraced the new band's potential and produced a sound distinct from the Black Keys. The Arcs opened with "Stay in My Corner," a song inspired by the May 2015 boxing match between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and then continued to perform most of the band's debut album. The songs were pop tunes with a soulful bent, but wrapped with a full band sound, never dominated by one instrument. Subtle backing vocals, double drums, occasional double keyboards and the mariachi trio added to a balanced diplomacy that curved away from anticipated arrangements for a fresh pop twist. Called back for an encore, the Arcs reprised "Outta My Mind," which had been the second song of the set. In interviews, Auerbach has affirmed that the Arcs is not a side project but a second band for him, and the outlook is very promising.

Visit the Arcs at