The Black Keys Bore on SNL

There are times when Saturday Night Live is having a rough night, one where the timing's off from start to finish, the host flubs their lines or breaks character in a totally unfunny way, and the big group hug that takes place onstage while the credits roll is more of a consoling embrace than a congratulatory one. In those instances, the musical guest has the unique opportunity to break out as the star of the show and upstage the host, making every bland Weekend Update joke or try-hard sketch worth it for those two songs alone. If Jay Pharoah couldn't get the audience to laugh at his Obama impression on that particular episode, maybe Haim would've swooped in and saved the day. If Ben Affleck faltered, Kanye was there to catch him with "Black Skinhead." It's all about balance and give-and-take when something is off in Studio 8H, and as SNL is the cornerstone of live TV, there's nothing we can do but watch the trainwreck roll out.

That didn't happen on SNL this week. If anything, the Black Keys brought down SNL, and they brought down SNL fast.

See also: Eminem's SNL Performance Was So Bad It Was Taken Off the Internet

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Neil Young, Foo Fighters, Black Keys To Play A Big Charity Show In Central Park

Neil Young.
The Global Festival 2012, a concert on Central Park's Great Lawn sponsored by an outfit called the Global Poverty Project, will take place on September 29; Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Foo Fighters, and the Black Keys will headline, with Band of Horses and K'Naan serving as support acts. As is customary with shows on the Great Lawn, he show is free as far as monetary cost, but you'll have to give up some of your time if you want to get in—to enter the lottery for tickets, you'll need to point your web browser to, which is chock-full of " a wide cross-section of content and actions about international health and development issues, ranging from videos to in-depth white papers," and peruse some of the content within to accrue points. Three points enters you into the lottery for tickets. But if you don't want to click around with the hoi polloi, there are, of course, VIP options available. Private bathroom access: Worth your $189.50? It's your call!

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Live: Catalpa Offers A Little Bit Of Everything To The Soggy Masses At Randall's Island

Snoop Dogg at Catalpa.
PHOTOS: Sunday at Catalpa

Catalpa NYC: Snoop Dogg, Black Keys, Matt & Kim, Matisyahu, A$AP Rocky, Hercules & Love Affair, TV On The Radio, Girl Talk, et al.
Randall's Island
Saturday and Sunday, July 28 and 29

Better than: Arguing over an iPod's shuffle function.

Music festivals without a historical following or a known brand identity can employ many strategies in their inaugural year, one of which is "Appeal to as many prospective demographics as possible." Catalpa NYC, which debuted this weekend at Randall's Island, decided to combat this problem by throwing together a bunch of popular-ish acts and some quirky attractions—art, fire, a chance to "elope" with a fellow Snoop Dogg fan.

Results were mixed; the lineup succeeded in having a broad appeal, but lacked a coherent musical aesthetic. Many of the non-musical attractions were spoiled by rain on Saturday and, faced with the prospect of surviving on its artists alone, Catalpa became a referendum on its performers' current positions within the musical landscape. Many attendees claimed to like "everything," so Catalpa became a chance to find out what the new "everything" is.

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Radio Hits One: Will Grouplove And Walk The Moon Follow fun. And Gotye On The Crossover Path?

Both fun.'s "We Are Young" and Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know." topped the Hot 100 and the Alternative Songs chart, and did so in quick succession. The success of both those songs after a number of years when songs from the Alternative Songs chart seemed to be almost completely absent from pop radio might portend a cultural sea change, or at least the instant impact of Billboard beginning to factor Spotify streams into its formula for calculating the Hot 100.

Will a third alt-rock crossover rise to No. 1 this year? Will fun. and/or Gotye score big follow-ups, or begin to accrue the "one-hit wonder" stigma? I don't doubt that both will enjoy a healthy afterglow from their respective smashes—fun.'s "Some Nights" has already climbed to No. 8 on Alternative Songs and No. 41 on the Hot 100. But the future reception of those singles is up in the air. Will they continue to dominate both pop and alternative radio, or will they settle in one format? Both acts had followings prior to these songs—internationally in Gotye's case, and in the American indie/emo underground in fun.'s case—but neither had any previous Alternative Songs hits to establish that chart as their home base.

Ever since becoming a significant force in mainstream music in the early '90s, so-called "alternative rock" has struggled with an identity crisis about what, exactly, it's an alternative to—especially after it began to compete commercially with hard rock and metal. But even at its peak as a sales force, alt-rock has always been a relatively minor presence on the pop singles charts—Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" hit No. 6 on the Hot 100, but that victory helped open the floodgates for the band and its contemporaries to dominate album charts and rock airwaves. Hot 100 success remained elusive.

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Dr. John Gets Locked Down With The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach

One recent trend in pop music has seen a number of old souls producing albums by the young at heart. Gospel goddess Mavis Staples's latest album, 2010's You Are Not Alone, was produced by Wilco wunderkind Jeff Tweedy; rockabilly vet Wanda Jackson's The Party Ain't Over, released in 2011, was overseen by icky thumper Jack White; and, since 2008, ?uestlove has lit fires under Al Green (Lay It Down), Booker T. Jones (The Road from Memphis), and Betty Wright (Betty Wright: The Movie). It's a great deal on both sides; one party gets to work with their idol, and the other gets to make a splash—not to mention a potentially killer record.

On April 3, another notch is added to the future-master-produces-for-an-old-pro belt with Locked Down, the new album from New Orleans pianist and singer Dr. John. Produced by guitarist Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, Locked Down rewinds to the Doctor's potent late-'60s/early-'70s period, a time that precedes Auerbach's birth by about a decade. Surrounding the release, and beginning March 29, Dr. John will take over the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Howard Gilman Opera House for three weekends, bringing in a different project for each three-night stretch. The middle weekend, running from April 5 to 7, will offer the official debut of the music from Locked Down.

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Live: The Black Keys Strut Under The Disco Balls At Madison Square Garden

The Black Keys w/Arctic Monkeys
Madison Square Garden
Thursday, March 22

Better than: A Nickelback concert.

For Black Keys guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach, less is more—or at least it was last night. At the second of two Madison Square Garden gigs this month, he addressed the foaming-at-the-mouth crowd approximately twice, save for (mostly unnecessary) introductions of band members. But the scant words he did mutter couldn't have summed up Thursday's show any better.

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Watch Vampire Weekend And The Black Keys Do A "Sell-Out-Off" On The Colbert Report

colbert VW black keys.jpg
Well this is outstanding. Both the Black Keys and Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig showed up on Colbert last night to argue about who's gotten their music in more commercials. Koenig: "Are you challenging us to a sell-out-off?" Black Keys' Dan Auerbach: "Bring it on, Cape Cod!" Colbert: "Clearly you have both equally whored out your music!" Somehow the "musicians trying to be comedians" woodenness of it all only makes it funnier. This is Colbert's best bit in months; watch below (both bands show up around 4:30), and lament only that there was no way to get Pomplamoose involved.

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All Points West Sunday: (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To See Coldplay)

I wore straight-up hiking boots to this motherfucker, clunky and impenetrable, and sloshed invincibly across acres of gushy, foul-smelling New Jersey mud like a hovercraft, like a Range Rover, like God moving across the face of the waters. The mud is what we'll all remember about APW, first brought to life by Friday's torrential downpour and sustained Sunday morning and early afternoon by apocalyptic storms that deferred ferries and kept the gates closed for three-plus hours as folks Twittered irately. Once everyone finally got in around 4:30, the weather was actually lovely, not a drop to fall on our pretty little heads all evening. A fabulous environment from the knees up, provided you had a gas mask. Nearly every band's banter included a simple, paternal, deeply concerned question: "Are you all OK?"

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