The Hives Rock the House at First Ave 2/28/08!!!!
Making light of a nation’s weak currency is rarely a way for a band to win over an audience, but last night at a packed First Avenue, The Hives frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist did just that. “Being from Sweden, your dollar is worth nothing to us. We are playing this show because we love you people,” he exclaimed early on in their frantic, vigorous hour and a half set. And, by the end of the show, it was clear that he loved himself quite a bit too-but so did the audience, who ate up Pelle’s arrogance simply because he and his band brought the rock to back up all his outlandish claims. Before the band tore into ‘Hate To Say I Told You So,’ Pelle claimed that they were the currently the ‘best band in the entertainment industry,’ and, during those three minutes (and the rest of the show, actually) it was tough to argue with him. There aren’t too many bands that give themselves up to the spectacle of rock n’ roll so unabashedly. And that spirit really was infectious, as the audience appeared to be having as much fun as the band, dancing and pogoing and clapping along with the beat--lest the monster of Minneapolis would make an appearance. Pelle claimed that there was a monster in the city that no one knew about, and if the audience stopped clapping, it would kill everyone. It sounds silly out of the context of the show, but, believe it or not, the threat worked, and the crowd responded by sending waves of applause at the band after every song.
Musically, The Hives don’t really break any new ground, meshing rock and punk in a familiar way, but they continually bring a fresh energy to their music and genuinely look like they are having the time of their lives onstage (and look the part as well, in their matching black and white fitted suits). Most of the songs went by in a blur, blending into each other rather seamlessly, with Pelle’s often hilarious comments intermittently scattered in. I have to admit I’m not as familiar with their last two records as I am their earlier work, but the new songs were engaging and fun. But the real standouts for me were the older (and admittedly more familiar) songs-‘Walk Idiot Walk,’ ‘Main Offender,’ ‘Die Alright,’ and the aforementioned ‘Hate To Say I Told You So.’ Perfect examples of straight-ahead, high-energy three minute rock songs. It’s really what The Hives do best. And last night they were playing to their strengths and ripping one song off after another, keeping the energy level in the club high, and keeping the crowd entertained both with their music and the incredible stage presence and makeshift stand-up comedy of Pelle. ‘This next song is really going to fuck you in the ears,’ he hilariously claimed towards the end of the show, and you know what-it did. What more can you possibly expect from rock n’ roll?