It's a strange time to be the Black Keys. With their five albums before 2010's Brothers, they were critical favorites, selling more copies with each release, gaining momentum with the Danger Mouse-produced Attack and Release. When the more soul-influenced Brothers was released last year, it connected with listeners quickly, with the single "Tighten Up" getting airplay on even alternative stations that had largely abandoned anything outside of the angry alt-rock mainstream. Then, the band racked up a few Grammys. That's the "big time" for a band that for a long time was on the fringe. The catch is that when a band hits that bigger level of fame, the spotlight gets brighter, too. Salon.com ran a tell-all by the ex-wife of drummer Patrick Carney, and some of the critics who were generally kind to the band kicked up the backlash. Even the group's choice of venue for its current tour — the not terribly rock 'n' roll Mesa Amphitheatre — implies the group is turning a corner from the world of indie clubs and theaters to more upscale venues. Still, the open space and less blues-revival sound of Brothers hints at bigger things, so only time will tell. There's a sold-out audience in this town waiting for the next step.
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