After upstaging the Black Crowes on the same stage 15 years earlier, the Black Keys returned to the Minnesota State Fair grandstand Thursday night and succeeded again by doing what the Crowes failed to do way back when.

They kept it simple and ignored their latest record.

The kickoff concert to the fair's impressive 2023 grandstand schedule — continuing Friday with the sold-out Chicks gig — drew around 6,621 fans, which is more than the Crowes drew in 2008 after years of in-fighting and substance-abuse problems. One of the things that set the Keys apart at that prior show was their minimalist, throwback approach as a duo, compared with the Crowes' then-bloated, overly hazy jam-band approach.

As they garnered widespread radio play and festival gigs in the 2010s, Keys singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney also expanded. What was once a twosome got upsized with two, three and now four extra musicians.

Even with the auxiliary members and some coolly trippy lighting and video effects in the staging, though, Thursday's 90-minute performance still felt like a relatively raw, basic rock show.

Some of the best songs in the set still harked back to the days when Auerbach and Carney were just a couple young dudes in Akron, Ohio, banging out rugged blues tunes in the basement of a similarly ragged Rust Belt city.

The concert started with an opening act that recalled the small-scale high impact of the Keys in '08: Colorado-based blasters the Velveteers, one of the many young bands whose record Auerbach has produced. The band featured satin-jumpsuit-wearing singer/guitarist Demi Demitro playing manic, metallic stoner-rock backed only by two drummers. Further proof less is sometimes more.

The Keys' set started with one of the bluesiest and grittiest tunes of the night, "I Got Mine," which chugged along heavily like one of the vintage tractor engines up on Machinery Hill. But the band immediately changed gears with one of its slickest, catchiest and biggest radio hits, the Slade/'70s-flavored bouncer "Gold on the Ceiling."

Fans sang along at Auerbach's urging, and that's about all it took to keep the crowd pretty well invested until show's end.

Even while keeping things bluesy and pretty basic throughout the performance, the Keys nicely paired up certain songs to vary the tempo and vibe here and there.

The moody and lowdown cover of North Mississippi blues guru Junior Kimbrough's "Crawling King Snake" segued beautifully into a slow-grooving version of "Everlasting Light." Auerbach showed off his slide-guitar skills in the former, while the latter displayed his smooth falsetto voice. The rest of the band showed a similarly sly tenderness, too.

Those tunes were then sharply contrasted by a pair of fuzzed-out heavy rockers, "Next Girl" and "Lo/Hi," which put the extra musicians to good use creating a hazy, sweaty overtone not unlike the muggy weather before showtime.

The band played only two songs off its newest album, "Dropout Boogie," and saved them 'til nearly the end: "Wild Child" delivered a Hendrix-y groove, and "Your Team Is Looking Good" had a catchy hook. But the record was a commercial dud, so the band wisely stuck to older crowd-pleasers, including the thrilling encore twofer "Little Black Submarines" and "Lonely Boy."

A fun bonus on top of the already entertaining performance: The Keys had special limited-edition T-shirts made up just for the gig featuring the Sweet Martha's Cookie logo on the front under the band's name. Those Ohio dudes sure do know how to do the Minnesota State Fair right.