House of Blues
During the intro to Alkaline Trio's "Olde English 800," which opens with singer/guitarist Matt Skiba strumming an A chord, numerous audience members took it upon themselves to clap along. In theory, this is fine. In practice it was a fucking nightmare as everyone clapping along was not only way off time, but way off time in different time signatures. For one brief moment, it was like the pop/punk threesome had morphed into a prog rock band or an avant garde jazz trio. Which, admittedly, would be pretty awesome if it was intentional.
Fortunately, Skiba and bassist/singer Dan Andriano and drummer Derek Grant didn't let something like rhythm-less fans keep them from pounding through a set that differed from the group's April 25 show at the Observatory.
Also different from the Observatory show was the sound. By that, I mean last night's sound was good. Seriously, was it just me or did that April 25 show sound like shit? And I don't mean the band -- I mean the room.
Anyway, last night's show featured plenty of set list staples ("Clavicle," "'97," "This Could Be Love," "Cringe" and "Radio"), oldies that don't get played often enough ("Dine, Dine My Darling," "Tuck Me In" and "Cooking Wine") and a slew of new songs that fit right in with older material ("She Lied to the FBI," "I Wanna Be a Warhol," "I'm Only Here to Disappoint," "The Torture Doctor" and "Young Lovers").
It's highly doubtful everyone in attendance was a card-carrying member of the Church of Satan, but it didn't matter when the group kicked into "Hell Yes." Perhaps I'm a heathen, but I feel a sense of affinity whenever I'm in a room full of people singing the words, "Bless me dark father/I have sinned/I've done it before/and I'll do it again." Shit, it was downright spiritual for me--guess that means I'm a bonafide heathen.
Anton LaVey references aside, the best part of any Alkaline Trio show is set closer "Radio" and last night was no different. Skiba announced to the room that it was not only the last song of the night but the last song of the band's 38-date tour before strumming that beautifully haunting intro. By the time the band got to the chorus, which just might be the most awesome chorus in the history of recorded music thanks to the lyrics, "I've got a big fat fucking bone to pick with you my darling/In case you haven't heard I'm sick and tired of trying/I wish you would take my radio to bathe with you/Plugged in and ready to fall"), bro dudes were hugging and girls were on the verge of tears.
Nearly as good as "Radio" (because nothing is as good as "Radio") was "My Friend Peter," a fuck-you song that never actually uses the term "fuck you," probably because it's not really a fuck-you song. Confusing? Yes. But it makes sense when Skiba explains how he "doesn't care who you've been sleeping with these days/You're outta my hair/That's growing just above my smiling face/That I wear/Every night I drink myself to sleep/Not thinking about you/Not thinking about anything at all."
Skiba wants us to believe he's over this girl, but he's not because "all these drinks and drugs no longer help/I'm tired of lying about not thinking of you." In a perfect world, no one would relate to this song. Sadly, we don't live in a perfect world and the idea that someone is convincing themselves they aren't thinking about the one who got away is a sentiment that is all too familiar.
The addition of "Young Lovers" to the set was a definite highlight. Not only is it one of Andriano's best songs (which is saying ,cuz homeboy writes killer tunes), it's arguably the best song on the band's latest, My Shame is True. There were plenty of young lovers in the crowd last night, hoping to "kiss like we could die tonight." While dying is never a good thing, kissing like you're dying is pretty damn good. Or so I'm told. I'm waiting for marriage, so what do I know?
Critical Bias: I'd go way gay for Matt Skiba. Ditto for Dan Andriano. Sorry Derek, but you aren't my type.
The Crowd: Bearded dudes in hats and girls with black Bettie Page bangs.
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Overheard In The Crowd: "It'd be awesome if he used that sword."
Random Notebook Dump: A band I used to be in opened for Alkaline Trio in November 1999 at the PCH Club in Wilmington, which made me the oldest fucking guy in the room last night.