Alkaline Trio Rocks First Night at Observatory
Alkaline Trio, awesome. Photography skills, terrible.
"I bet they'll play Goddamnit and the self-titled album," the guy behind me in the will-call line said. "At least, if they're going chronologically, that's what they'll play."
"Actually, they're playing My Shame is True and then Goddamnit tonight," I interjected, sharing the knowledge I'd gained from secret sources like the band's social media and general internet publicity for the shows. I didn't bother to point out that they're not going to play Alkaline Trio, because that's a compilation album (and it's not even their second release, chronologically speaking).
"I hope they play the one with"'Mercy Me" on it, I like that song," said a girl in a black Alkaline Trio shirt. Sorry darling, that's Sunday.
"They should play Maybe I'll Catch Fire," the guy next to me in a Joy Division shirt suggested to his buddy. Nope, come back tomorrow for that one.
After hearing roughly three more people make incorrect hopeful guesses at what Alkaline Trio would perform, I realized that most Trio fans probably just heard about the shows and bought their tickets, figuring they were willing to hear anything that Matt Skiba and company were willing to play for them.
Unfortunately, when Skiba, Dan Andriano, and Derek Grant began playing through the first few tunes of My Shame is True, it became apparent that most of the black-clad crowd didn't know the new album, despite it being over two years old.
Alkaline Trio sounded as good as ever (I've seen them more times than I can count, and I've never seen them put on a bad show), and the crowd even got into the "ohs" and "ahs" of some of the more anthematic songs on the new(ish) album.
While songs like "I Wanna Be a Warhol" and "Only Love" sounded exactly like they do on the record (maybe better), the crowd just wasn't into it. In a comfortably full venue, there were maybe only a few dozen fans singing along to each song. The rest were still pleasantly clapping at the end of each song, hoping for one of the records they grew up with to be played next.
With Skiba, Andriano and Grant only stopping to catch their breath for a sentence or two every few songs, the band continued to blast through song after song of the new album with their usual passionate style of play.
There's not much room for scissor kicks, aggressive dancing and instrument throwing when you're a three-piece band in your late-30s, but Trio more than makes up for it by singing like they mean it and rarely (if ever) missing a chord.
Once the band finished their latest album in just over 30 minutes, they took the longest break of the night, joking that they played that record "in record time."
"That was a record," Andriano said. "Now we're going to play another record."
And with those words, most of the antsy crowd got what they were looking for, as the group launched into 'Cringe' to kick off their oldest full album, Goddamnit.
The two biggest hits with the crowd were definitely "Nose Over Tail" and "Clavicle" (both of which inspired decent mosh pits and crowd surfing), but the most notable performance of the night might've been Andriano's solo rendition of "Enjoy Your Day." Each acoustic performance of the night was absolutely on point, but that one really brought out the emotion in the room.
As the band left the stage after performing both albums, I checked my phone and saw that it was barely after 10:30 p.m.. Skiba thanked everyone earlier in the night for "coming out on a school night," but it seemed awfully early for a concert to be over.
After a quick rarities encore of"'My Friend Peter," I was back in my car by the deadline-friendly time of 11 p.m. and still singing along to bits and pieces of both albums in my head. It was disappointing that so few people were excited for My Shame is True, but the performance itself was certainly anything but a letdown.
For those who may be going the next three nights, here are the albums to expect (encores every night are rarities and B-sides):
Friday, June 5 - This Addiction then Maybe I'll Catch Fire Saturday, June 6 - Agony and Irony then From Here to Infirmary Sunday, June 7 - Crimson then Good Mourning
I don't think the order is supposed to be a surprise, it's posted plenty of places online. If they change it because of this one, we should all be honored.
Random Notebook Dump
Dave Hause opened the show. He's as good of a one-man opening show as you're going to see in the rock world. If you don't listen to his stuff, you should.
I (almost literally) ran into Buddy Nielsen from Senses Fail walking into the venue. I then saw him watching the show from the side with the rest of the crowd, and didn't see hardly anyone recognize him. That was kind of awesome, because it proves you can have a relatively successful band (of which a lot of the crowd probably knows at least a song or two), grow out a beard, and no one will bother you.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.