And a farewell two arms, and legs, and heads and all
I now realize I face a huge dilemma in writing these show reviews. I have no idea who, if anyone, will be reading them. Now my first thought is to write a very detailed review that another diehard fan would want to read. However, if you’re one of my friends who I’m forcing to read my blog, you would have probably been there with me if you were that interested in whether the band played that Japanese bonus track from 1998 or what color Matt Skiba’s guitar picks were, and how many he threw out to the crowd (they were white, and he threw out a lot of them, but I wasn’t counting, sorry). Anyway, I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that, because I want my own record of the show, but I don’t think anyone other than myself is going to read the War and Peace version of “Alkaline Trio at Toad’s.” So here is my attempt at a concise and somewhat interesting review of one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while.
I’ve been a huge Alkaline Trio fan for five years now, and up to this point, I had never seen them live. Freshman year, I passed up two chances to see them, once at the Roxy and once at Avalon because I had an exam to study for and a night class. If anything, this taught me the invaluable lesson that school work should never come before your favorite bands, because I ended up bombing the test, learning nothing in the night class, and regretting the decision horribly.
Toad’s is pretty much the size of my basement. And it’s 10 minutes from my house.So it completely rules. Tonight however, the club decided to split the crowd in two, straight down the center by putting up a barrier. One one side was the bar and everyone over 21, on the other side was the merch tables and everyone under 21. Now, I can’t imagine anything more lame than standing near the front of the stage with a bunch of dudes holding beers and barely singing along, so I chose the under 21 side hoping it would be crazy during the show, and of course, it was.
If there’s one thing I like, it’s knives. Really who doesn’t? You can’t deny the pleasure that comes from slicing cleanly and quickly through a steak, or chicken, or some flesh vegetables. That’s why I was amused when a Denmark-based band that no one had ever heard of called the Fashion took the stage to the sound of blades being sharpened and a recorded dialogue about which type of knife was the best. Did you notice that spelling error? It was my sad attempt to keep this interesting for people who couldn’t care less about punk bands from Copenhagen. However, those people should care, because the Fashion were really, really good. Their singer jumped and danced around the stage like a mad man and the songs themselves were full of energy, hand claps, and big choruses. While I don’t know if this band will ever catch on in the US, they sure did manage to entertain the crowd and start the night off on a good note.
Next up was Bayside. Now I’m not sure if you’ve been informed of this, but Bayside is a cult. I learned this from the t-shirts and hoodies that way too many kids wore to the show (even if they are an opening band, that’s still a no no). In addition to being a cult, Bayside is also huge. I’m not sure when this happened, but it’s pretty awesome, and from where I was standing, this might as well have been a headlining show for Anthony Rineri and Co, because everyone went nuts when they steped on stage and began their set with “Blame It on Bad Luck.” One of the things I love the most about Bayside is the fact that there are no gimics. They don’t pull out any keyboards or recordings or string arrangements, they don’t try to look like rock starts, and they’ll happily admit that they worship Alkaline Trio and are thrilled to be touring with them. They simply do their job, which is to play dark, meloctic rock music very very well. At some points, the singing of the crowd easily drowned out Rineri, who said every night of the tour had been the best night of his life, and proudly sported a red Alkaline Trio heart logo among the numerous tattos adorning both his arms. When the band could be heard, it was obvious they were hitting every note, and Jack O’Shea is one of the best guitarists around. Rineri also said that the band would be recording a new record shortly and hoped to release it in September. Here are the songs I remember them playing:
Blame It On Bad Luck
The Walking Wounded
They’re Not Horses, They’re Unicorns
Devotion and Desire
Now it was time to wait about half an hour for Alkaline Trio to take the stage. The entire time, I’m wondering how they can possibly top Bayside’s set, and wondering how Bayside has gotten so good. Also, this is the part in the review where I stopped to take a break. It lasted about a day, and that’s really too long, so the quality is pretty much all downhill from here. I apolagize for that, especially considering it wasn’t any good to being with.
Anyway, It’s great to see Bayside getting the attention they deserve, and I’m expecting a lot from their new record. So Alkaline Trio. For most of their set, they were very good, borderline great in fact. They kept everyone happy by playing a nice mix of songs from all of their records. They opened with “Private Eye,” and Matt and Dan seemed to be switching off songs. I was more impressed with the songs Matt was singing lead vocals on, mainly because it was pretty difficult to hear Dan, and also because Matt’s songs are just better to begin with. The crowd sang every word, and there was plenty of between song banter including the obligatory “this is the best show of the tour!” after only the third song.
While many bands start off displaying a lot of energy and playing their most popular songs first, that didn’t happen here, for I felt each song got better and better, and the show certainly hit it’s peak during an amazing encore. The band finished the first part of their set with “This Could Be Love,” extending it to include a huge crowd sing along with everyone belting out “love for fireeeeee!!!!” After the song, they said their goodbyes and left the stage. Instead of the typical “one more song” chant, the crowd began singing the chorus to encore staple “Radio” at the top of their lungs in unison. It was incredible, and upon hearing it, the band immediately returned to the stage and joined in (from the start of the song, or course). No matter what type of mood you’re in, there’s something wonderful about singing a song about wanting to see your enemies electrocute themselves very loudly with hundreds of other people.
For a band that has been around ten years, it seems like Alkaline Trio is as popular and as vital to today’s music scene as ever, and they should only get bigger with the release of their major label debut on July 1st. It will be interesting to see what the band has planned down the road in terms of touring and promotion of the new album. A fall tour of larger venues with other established acts doesn’t seem out of the question, but it is unlikely such a tour could match the excitement or intensity of the Trio playing all of their best songs at intimate venues with two great opening bands, but we’ll just have to wait and see. The more pressing question is, does anyone have an extra ticket to the New York show?
Songs I remember them playing:
Nose Over Tail
I Lied My Face Off
New Song (possibly calling all skeletons)
Maybe I’ll Catch Fire
Every Thug Needs A Lady
We’ve Had Enough
Time To Waste
This Could Be Love