BEING THERE: The Arcs @ The Fillmore



When the opening act is a mariachi band, it makes it pretty hard to guess what to expect next. I never bothered to check to see who the opener was, so when four women graced the stage of The Fillmore at about 8:15 pm dressed in spangled vests and concho belts and carrying a trumpet, violin, guitarron and guitarra de golpe (this gringo had to look up those last two), I began to wonder whether I came to an Arcs concert or accidentally stumbled into the wrong venue and was about to watch the San Mateo Carnavaleros rehearse for the Mummers Parade. But after thoroughly enjoying a solid set of  trad Mexican mariachi music for a good while, The Arcs eventually took the stage. The Arcs is the new side project of Dan Auerbach of Black Keys fame. However, a better name for the group would have been “The Dan Auerbach Experience,” because the stage was arranged so that the Black Keys singer/guitarist was the only member you could focus on. Everybody else in the band was pushed to the back and sides of stage, forming this weird, faintly narcissistic semi-circle around Auerbach, as if to say “look at me! I’m Dan fucking Auerbach and you came to see me, not these other losers.” But all that shit aside, the music thoroughly kicked ass. It’s not entirely surprising that the prismatic blues-nicity of The Arcs sounds a lot like The Black Keys, but with better background vocals and slightly less catchy songs. Auerbach and co. opened with “Velvet Ditch,” closed the first set with that catchy single you’ve heard on the radio called “Outta My Mind,” and ended their encore with “Stay In My Corner,” which is probably the best song off The Arcs debut, Yours, Dreamily. It was also the best song of the night — or more accurately, the best song after the opening mariachi band said ‘Adios.’ — TOM BECK