By Martin Cizmar
The Hives and Eagles of Death Metal have a lot in common. Both play stripped-down, three-chord garage rock. Both bands playfully taunt audiences, boasting about their own talent and virility. Both bands have been around about a decade, finding modest success a few years back with minor hits and advertisement exposure. On paper, Friday’s Marquee concert should have been a showcase of two seasoned indie acts who survived the decline of the garage rock rival – thriving, post-buzz.
See more shots from the show in our Hives slideshow.
As it turns out, The Hives still put on one of the best shows you’ll ever see. Eagles of Death Metal do not.
First, be it known that I’m susceptible to the charms self-aggrandizing indie frontmen. Like, I find Electric 6’s Dick Valentine not only tolerable, but vaguely charming. Still, watching Eagles’ frontman Jesse Hughes for an hour was unbearable. Somewhere in there – it may have been when he took a break from prancing around the stage to comb his greasy hair and straighten his aviators, or when he offered a woman in the crowd a mustache ride on his ironic 70s pornstache – the mixture of bravado and irony grew obnoxious. By the end, it was like watching some dude in a trucker hat and “More Cowbell” T-shirt put the moves on your little sister.
Irony may not be dead – contrary to what Time Magazine and Dillinger Escape Plan have been saying for years – but, if not, that mustache is going to kill it sometime very soon.
So what about the music? Well, the band was without star drummer Josh Homme but sounded pretty tight. “I Only Want You” and the other old favorites were solid, but the most of the show centered on new songs from the not-so-catchy Heart On, due in October. Memo to Jesse Hughes: Duanne Allman played the hits. You want a bushy mustache like Duane Allman? Play the fucking hits like Duane Allman.
Anyway, on to the Hives. In 2002, The Hives declared themselves Your New Favourite Band and, really, who was in a position to argue? Riding in on the coattails of The Strokes and the other “The” bands got them some press but hasn’t worked out well.
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Only now can we see: The Hives are a punk band who fell in with the wrong crowd – fickle hipsters who’ve since moved on. Meanwhile, the loyal, trend-adverse punk fans who’d almost certainly still be following these guys were turned off by their association with the jean jacket set.
Yet you will not see a better rock and roll show than The Hives. Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist is frenetic on stage, hilarious between songs and constantly out in the crowd – all the while delivering pitch-perfect punk vocals. His brother, guitarist Nicholaus Arson is no less fun to watch. The old stuff (“Main Offender,” “A.K.A. I-D-I-O-T”) got the biggest reaction, but the new songs slid in easily. A repeated sing-along chorus of “Return The Favour,” off The Black and White Album, was one of the night’s highlights.
Then there was “Hate To Say I Told You So.” As The Hives played their biggest hit, it felt like that heady summer of 2002 all over again - like you were hearing Your New Favourite Band in concert for the first time.
Man, when are The Strokes coming to town?