The Black Keys had to take time off this year when drummer Patrick Carney injured his shoulder. Had that accident not occurred, though, chances are that Keys guitarist-singer Dan Auerbach might not have stoked his new project, The Arcs, or created Yours, Dreamily, their aptly titled debut album. In Dreamily, one of 2015's best albums, he shared his love of boxing and affection for brassy, creepy psychedelia.
Dreamily was the basis for The Arcs' lush, loud show on Wednesday at the Fillmore, with a band that included New York's all-girl Mariachi Flor de Toloache for extra flavor.
Auerbach's Arcs showed that his head isn't always stuck in scuzzy garage blues - though scuzzy garage blues were there, in the frug-worthy, fuzz-toned "Velvet Ditch." Like the lava lamp projections behind them, The Arcs explored Grateful Dead-style psychedelic meandering (they also, again like the Dead, had two drummers.) Auerbach's guitar leads were always wiry and warm. So was his singing voice, stirring but panicky, always seeming to be catching his breath, whether in the broken ballad "My Mind" or the samba of "Pistol Made of Bones." The reggae-blues of "Everything You Do (You Do for You)" was the singer's finest moment, warm without a hint of reverb, on a night when all other tunes were drenched in effects. The track let Auerbach convey bugged-out disgust.
The Arcs were far more than Auerbach. Homer Steinweiss and Richard Swift's double-drummed Latin shuffle of Gary U.S. Bonds' "I Wanna Holler," cutting the night's meanest groove. Bassist Nick Movshon had his shining moment on the soulful Mayweather/Pacquiao-inspired "Stay in My Corner." Leon Michels - Auerbach's principal partner in The Arcs - provided some of the creepiest, most slithery Farfisa organ since ? and the Mysterians on "Keep On Dreamin'."
Then there were the backing vocals, vihuela, violin, and trumpet of Mariachi Flor de Toloache on everything from the rolling, rocking "Bad Girl" to the country-ish "Cold Companion." Mariachi Flor de Toloache had already delivered a rousing opening set. The all-woman ensemble, in traditional mariachi garb, brought feminine grace and Mexican flavor to the party, covering Nirvana and Led Zeppelin - as well as their delicious version of Caetano Veloso's "Cucurrucucu Paloma."