Student Life Archives (2001-2008)

The Hives have the rock ‘n’ roll itch

Margaret Bauer

“We are happy you came out tonight…but not as happy as YOU are that WE came out tonight.”

Thus goes the stage banter of Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, frontman and centerpiece of Sweden’s rock pride, The Hives. Any Hives set is bound to be laced with such off-kilter declarations, and this Monday’s show at Pop’s was no bold exception. Almqvist spent much of his time between songs assuring the rabid crowd that yes, they did, in fact, love him and his band, and that yes, they were, in fact, very pleased to have attended the show. Pelle-as he insisted the audience address him-made also some keen observations regarding the strip clubs and “chemical plant” of nearby Sauget, and also expounded quite likeably on his long history of being an “asshole.”

It may seem off-topic to spend so much time recounting stage banter, but Almqvist’s put-on cockiness is always a highlight, and would surely be the high point of many a show from lesser a band. As it is, though, the Hives remain one of today’s most ferocious acts, and-despite the relative comedown of their new LP, “Tyrannosaurus Hives,” from the glorious highs of “Veni Vidi Vicious”-their musical presence on Monday was felt in Scandinavian full. The set opened with “Abra Cadaver,” one of the new album’s most impressive tracks, and propelled through stabbing renditions of “Die, All Right,” “State Control” and “A Little More For Little You,” amongst others. “Tyrannosaurus”‘s first single, the narcotic “Walk Idiot Walk,” shone so bright it blistered, and the band’s concession to their solitary radio success to date-“Hate To Say I Told You So”-served only to prove how rare and pleasing it is when the airwaves embrace great songs.

The set only lagged when the band offered a version of its lethargic “Diabolic Scheme” (a performance nearly justified by Almqvist’s bizarre pre-song characterization of the track as romantic), but it was quickly rejived by a run-through of the latest single, “Two-Timing Touch and Broken Bones,” and an encore featuring one of the band’s best obscure tracks, “a.k.a. I.D.I.O.T.” Pop’s is rarely a venue given to great, or even good acts or performances, but this past Monday, it was a cozy, roaring home to both.

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