The Black Keys Headline Riptide Fest Sparking 2000’s Nostalgia

It’s hard to believe, we’re this deep into the ’20s. As we wade into this decade, we should prepare for a new wave of nostalgia. Just as we’re currently revering the 1990s, we’ll soon be celebrating the 2000s. We’re already somehow talking about what a civil president George W. Bush was, a new wave of Avatar movies is emerging, and here come the Black Keys headlining Riptide Festival, Saturday, December 2.

The celebration of the 2000’s musical era when people began relabeling “alternative” as “indie” was ushered in with the publication of Meet Me in the Bathroom in 2017. But that book is an oral history of New York-centric bands like the Strokes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and LCD Soundsystem. The Black Keys shared bills with those acts but missed the geographical cut. That doesn’t make them any less worthy as survivors of the last era when rock ‘n’ roll seemed to matter.

The Black Keys started in 2001 with guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney experimented whether a two-man band was big enough to fill a room. Based in Akron, Ohio, the Black Keys seemed to be the mirror image of another Midwestern blues-influenced duo with a similar name that was starting to break out: the White Stripes. But without the flair, backstory, or sex appeal of Jack and Meg White, the Black Keys seemed destined for the fate of critical darling.

Eventually The Black Keys did something that would have been unthinkable for an underground act ten years earlier: They “sold out.”

They licensed their songs to appear in countless advertisements and TV shows. By 2012, they tallied more than 300 song placements in TV spots, videogames, and movies. They capitalized on the idea that the products their songs were selling were at the same time selling their songs. The result: four Top 5 albums and the distinction of having become one of the scant few bands formed in the 21st Century that could headline an arena tour.

Such ubiquity means songs by the Black Keys  are destined to be cinematic shorthand for the ’00s. Just as “California Dreaming” appeared in every movie set in the ’60s. “I’ll Be Your Man” will find its way into the inevitable Barack Obama biopic, and “Girl Is on My Mind”  will blare in a romantic comedy set in 2005 at the point when the skinny-jeans-wearing hipster protagonist creates a MySpace account.

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David Rolland

David Rolland edits the Jitney blog. He is the author of the novels Yo-Yo & The End of the Century.