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Coachella 2012: John Fogerty joins Black Keys in Levon Helm tribute

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Yes, weekend two of Coachella can still present surprises. And so it was when rock legend John Fogerty joined Friday night's headliners the Black Keys to pay tribute to Levon Helm, who died Thursday from cancer.

Black Keys singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach called Helm, who was the drummer and a singer of the Band, "amazing and inspiring," and performed a soulful cover of "The Weight" with Fogerty. Earlier in the day another Helm tribute was made as the punk band Refused taped "RIP Levon Helm" to their bass drum.

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The gesture by the Black Keys was touching and fitting in a set packed with explosive and gritty roots rock, including hits "I Got Mine" and "Lonely Boy."

Watching the band's two core members, which also includes drummer Patrick Carney, it was striking to think of how far they have come -- skyrocketing from a niche duo with limited appeal to a powerful festival headliner. Their sound was given extra heft by bassist Gus Seyffert, who joins them on tour and can be seen around L.A. fronting his own band Willoughby (who are worth checking out, by the way).

It's interesting to note that a band like the Black Keys that traffics in raw, bluesy instrumentalism can draw an ecstatic crowd in the same festival culture that is currently harboring a near-fanatical devotion to electronic music. In fact, when Swedish House Mafia took to the main stage after the Black Keys, the field became as packed as it was for last Sunday's Snoop Dogg-athon.

Still, in this reporter's mind, the night belonged to the Black Keys -- and to Helm.

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--Jessica Gelt

Photo: Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys onstage during the second weekend of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times.

 
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