Saturday, May 24, 2008

they healed me

I was late getting home from work the night of the Hives concert, stuck in traffic in the driving rain with an increasingly pounding headache. The last thing I wanted to do was head back out again, and drive back across town for a late night of having my ears assaulted. But for the sake of you, my dear readers (and also for my concert companions), I sucked it up, popped an Advil, and headed over to MacEwan Hall to see the brash and lively Swedish garage rock revivalists.

And they are revivalists in more than one sense. They have reinvented the thrashing lively garage band sound, yes, but they also conjure up images of a old time revival meeting, with Howlin' Pelle Almqvist as the bombastic preacher, ready to heal you and save your soul for a buck.

And on Thursday night at Mac Hall, there was not a soul that was going home unsaved by the madman.

We arrived a little late and only caught the last 3 songs of the opener, Locksley. They were a
really decent, very cohesive garage band and I enjoyed what I heard. And they were really charming in their shill at the end of the set, asking anyone who was interested to sign up for their mailing list, "We promise we won't email you too often" and shyly mentioning that, as an unsigned band, they would be happy to accept donations for a gas fund. You've gotta feel for a poor travelling band these days.

Now I can probably only sing along to 4 or 5 Hives songs, but I always knew I wanted to see
them in concert given a chance, just based on their reputation as one of the best lives acts you will ever see. After Thursday's concert, I am not about to entirely take the title of Hardest Rocking Live Band away from the Constantines, but damn they are going to have to share it with the Hives. And while the Cons are earnest in their rock ethic - they put their heads down and they play as hard as they can, the Hives are brash and playful and, in a bit of postmodern self-awareness, they play up their reputation to the maximum.

That night, drumsticks flew up into the air, mic stands swung madly about, and Howlin' Pelle strutted and swaggered and scissor-kicked. He crowd-surfed and jumped on and off amps and was given to gesturing hugely - hands on hips, hands cupping ears, leaning in to the audience. He egged the audience on with "We are the Hives - give it up for the band! The Hives are in town, Calgary, and you are the only people who are lucky enough to see them! "

In any other band, this bombastic behaviour would simply be seen as arrogance, but with the Hives it was simply loads of fun, because they were so
obviously in on the joke. "This is what is known as having the audience eating out of your hand", Howlin' Pelle told us at one point, and then he made us sing even louder this time.

The Hives played a solid hard-hitting one hour show, with no slow moments, and then came back for an equally frantic 20 minute encore, which ended with Howlin' Pelle standing on the amps nearest us as the lights came back up, clapping and waving and blowing kisses. It was pretty spectacular, and when I got back to the parking lot, I realized that my headache was long gone. Damn they're good.

I tried to find a clip that demonstrates just how dynamic the Hives are in concert, and while I didn't find one that quite captured the magic and the interaction of the show at Mac Hall, this one comes close. Enjoy.


Karen said...

Thanks for taking one for the team Barb. Sounds like a lot of fun. And if the clip you provided was any indication it looks like a lot of fun as well. And may I say, Chris Dangerous is mighty nice to look at.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

He's not the one with the Jesus and Mary Chain hair, is he, Karen?

Oh they're a really fun band and I now understand what all the hype was about.

Karen said...

He's the drummer I think. Those drummers...the bad boys of rock and roll.

Dale said...

Sounds like a pretty Swede show!

BeckEye said...

I'm not a big Hives fan, but that Pelle dude sounds like a pretty funny chap.

Anonymous said...

Girl, you rock for posting with a brilliant headache. We are SO not worthy. Ok, I mean to speak only for myself here, but if anyone disagrees with me they're gonna have to suffer karmic consequences. *poof* *snap* *point* *invoke*. There.

I hope your head heals quickly, have good dreams of The Hives tonight.

Somehow, that seems incongruous. ;)

Anonymous said...

and i'm thrilled you had a nice time!!

where the HELL are my manners.

Joe said...

Your description of the Hives is just the way I would've described them when we saw them play at the Aragon Ballroom. Glad you enjoyed it!

Allison said...

A show that takes away a headache is surely one to remember. I'm glad you had a good time. :)

mellowlee said...

wooohooooooooooooooo! I knew you would love it! So glad to hear that you did :O) Isn't Pelle somethin else?!! *swooon* I want to go see them again! Awesome review Barb!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

The only thing that was missing was a Smergnaark chair, and I could have been living the IKEA dream Dale.

He was outrageous and way too much fun for a Thursday night, Beckeye.

It was pretty great, Michelle, thanks! Amazing how a little bit of the rock and roll can cure what ails you.

I have a feeling the they are pretty consistent, Bubs. Aren't they a hoot? You and the eldest must have had a blast when you saw them.

It was gone, just like that. That preacher man knows his stuff, Al. Good times.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You were right, Mel! What a crazy show! And Pelle is a madman, but in the best possible way of course.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an energy boost.
If you came out with more in the tank than when you entered, it was a good experience

bloody awful poetry said...

People named Pelle are just awesome. I mean, I went to see Pelle Carlberg,and the crowd almost ended up laughing too hard to listen to the songs. But Pelle took care of that, too. Pelles are born frickintastic.

Glad you had fun too!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Yup, I think I was on the winning side of that equation, Gifted. Every concert should make you come out energized. It should be a law.

Who knew it was a function of the name, BAP? But I love the combination of music and comedy. Billy Bragg was one of the top masters of this that I have ever seen. I kept forgetting if I was at a concert or a standup comedy show.

Strawberry Blondie said...

Sounds like a pretty kick ass concert! I love the second image you posted -- very cook! :-)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I wish I could tell you that you are viewing my astounding photography skills at play there, Strawberry Blondie, but no, 'twas stolen off the internet. I did, however, chose a photo the used the authentic outfits.

phlegmfatale said...

It's great when you take one for the team and it turns out to be a good time, anyhoo! SOunds exciting. I need to get out again and see some music soon.

phlegmfatale said...

P.S. - you're my role model!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Oh dear, if I am your role model, you are hitching your star to the wrong wagon altogether, Phlegmmy!
But I do agree that we need to get out to feel live music every chance we get.