March 13th, 2013 | Published in Featured
By Jason Burchaski
The Hives brought their Swedish rock and roll side show to the House of Blues last Sunday night to a capacity crowd. This solo show was a one off on Pink’s “Truth About Love” tour. Cleveland just happened to be in the right place at the right time. If anything, this was a chance for the boys from The Hives to cut loose and melt some faces and play a full set rather than their 30 minute opener for Pink.
It has been 5 years since The Hives have done a solo show in Cleveland when they toured The Black and White Album stopping at the Agora. The time before that at the Quicken Loans Arena opening for…Maroon 5. It’s just this odd kind of pairing at these arena rock shows that kept a lot of fans away. Maroon 5? Pink? So, needless to say fans of The Hives came out in droves traveling many miles to see a full set of material that covered a little bit of everything from the encore ”A.K.A. I-D-I-O-T” to a few cuts of their latest release Lex Hives.
The first time I saw The Hives live was at an oversold show at The Beachland Ballroom. It was November 2001. Veni Vidi Vicious and the entire underground garage rock scene hit like a freight train during that time. The New York scene was busting out and you had bands like The Strokes, The White Stripes, Mooney Suzuki, Sahara Hotnights and The Hives rolling through Cleveland what seemed to be nonstop. It’s good to see that The Hives have not lost the energy they first brought to Cleveland back then.
The opener for the set was Cleveland’s own Ohio Civil War. They are a four piece that includes Melt’s Matt Fish on Drums, Lachlan Mackinnon guitar, Matt Mulichak guitar, and Aaron Koonce bass. All but Fish shared vocal details. Their sound is reminiscent of high octane late 80’s early 90’s college rock. We aren’t talking REM stuff here. This band is influenced by psycho punk rock drum beats mixed in with distorted, yet melodic, Husker Du style guitars. Their 30 minute set was absolutely relentless rock and roll to its core. If the Matt Fish teaser doesn’t peak your interests just know you are in for one hell of a rock and roll experience with Ohio Civil War.
After a short break it was time for The Hives to take the stage, and in total Hives style they certainly did. Dressed in full tuxedo from top hats to tails they broke right into “Come On!” from Lex Hives, and plowed through “Try it Again” from the Black and White Album. Then came the famous Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist’s banter which continuing through the entire night. He spoke to the crowd at length multiple times pumping them up with sing-alongs, clap-alongs, and stomp-alongs. Half of The Hives experience is listening to Almqvist tell you how wonderful his band and he are. During “My Time is Coming” he made sure to compare himself to Jesus. If you don’t get the shtick Almqvist comes off as an asshole. If you take it for what it is, which is entertainment, it’s comical.
The Hives did not disappoint the crowd playing well over an hour. They had a nice mix of all their records including hits “Main Offender” followed immediately by “Walk Idiot Walk”, and that was only 5 songs into the set. They finished strong never even slowing down at all with “Wait a Minute” that had the crowd chanting along, the almost seizure inducing “Die Alright”, and closing out with “Hate To Say I Told You So” and “Patrolling Days”. When you didn’t think they could not possibly pull any other hits into the set they came back for an encore of “Go Right Ahead”, “A.K.A. I-D-I-O-T.” and ended with “Tick Tick Boom”.
I got to talk to the band a little after the show and seriously they are absolutely humble and quite possibly some of the nicest guys I have met in my rock and roll journeys. The common theme was about how much they really enjoyed the Pink tour. They spoke of staying in giant “NBA style dressing rooms”, and being treated very well by their headliner. They also gave props to Cleveland fans and how happy they were to be able to play here again. We talked about that first time I saw them play at the Beachland, mentioning the New Bomb Turks and the relationships they build here. The band on stage is absolute entertainment. I hate to break the illusion, but these are just a bunch of truly humble guys from Sweden who just so happen to be one of the best live acts going.