The Black Keys will be familiar faces at SXSW in Austin, Texas this coming March, with the duo conducting a keynote discussion as well as debuting a documentary, the festival announced on Jan. 16. It will be the start of a busy spell for the band, as the appearance comes less than a month ahead of the group’s upcoming twelfth album, Ohio Players, which is slated for release on April 4.
SXSW runs from March 8-16, comprising a tech conference, a film festival, and hundreds of live music performances spread all over the Texas capital’s downtown area. Other keynote speakers announced on Jan. 16 include Jane Fonda, Elijah Wood, and retired NBA star Dwyane Wade.
Announcing the group’s keynote, SXSW’s chief programming officer and co-president High Forrest said: “The impact of artists has made music the foundation of SXSW. For this reason, we’re especially excited to welcome Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney of the Black Keys, one of the most compelling rock bands around, to the Keynote Speaker lineup for a discussion on their prolific career.”
The documentary, bluntly titled This Is a Film About the Black Keys, comes from director Jeff Dupre, and traces the duo’s evolution from Ohio blues-rock revivalists into chart-topping festival headliners.
Of course, the film and the keynote will largely be prologue to the release of the group’s twelfth album, their first since 2022’s Dropout Boogie. Ohio Players will feature collaborations from the likes of Noel Gallagher, Beck, and Dan the Automator, with the latter two contributing to the album’s first single, “Beautiful People (Stay High),” which was released over the weekend.
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“We had this epiphany: ‘We can call our friends to help us make music,’" drummer Carney said in a statement announcing the album. Singer-guitarist Auerbach added: “No matter who we work with, it never feels like we're sacrificing who we are. It only feels like it adds some special flavor ... But when it came time to finish the album, it was just Pat and me.”
Starting with 2010’s mainstream breakthrough, Brothers, the last six Black Keys albums have all landed in the top 10 of the US album chart, with 2014’s Turn Blue reaching No. 1. The group most recently performed at the iHeartRadio Alter Ego festival in Anaheim, Calif., last Friday.