March 18th, 2009 |

The evening progressed like an earth cycle—the trees grew taller and intricate to match the appetite of the organisms adapted to reach its high leaves. (This is what happens if you watch too much National Geographic.) Those Darlins are the young ferns, sweet and sassy reaching for sunshine that comes from Wanda Jackson. Hacienda’s trunks are a little thicker—their branches wave around and grow fur where the ladies flash sequins and tattoos. As the El Rey crowded more and more with weeds and grass and flowers ready to worship nature’s marvelous idiosyncrasies, Dan Auerbach emerged as a redwood tree, wearing a scarf tie and thanking all the colorful things bobbing in the wake of his breath. In many ways, Dan Auerbach is like Olivia Newton John. His voice is sweet and tender, revealing the many colorful shimmerings of our romantic blood-pumpers. With “Whispered Words,” he throws scented love-letters in a pond. He played half of “When the Night Comes” solo, while his backing band Hacienda—along with Patrick Hallahan of My Morning Jacket on maracas and bongos—closed their eyes and transported themselves to the softest room in Xanadu. These two songs back-to-back were the highlight of a night encompassing many guitar licks worthy of sing-along, which is the number one sign of a great guitarist. Think of every Jimmy Page solo you’ve memorized, and add Dan Auerbach to that level of awesome (plus Olivia’s soft touch) and you’ve got bliss.

—Daiana Feuer