On 6/22 The Hives rocked Terminal 5 in New York in support of their latest album “Lex Hives,” along with supporting acts FIDLAR and Flesh Lights (Don’t worry, clicking the link is perfectly safe. It’s not what you think it is.)
I’m sorry to say I missed the first half of the Flesh Light’s set. My love of awesome food courtesy of Hanci Turkish Cuisine won against my love of loud, abusive music.
Getting into Terminal 5 proved to be a little trickier than usual. It’s the standard operating procedure: driver’s license out and prepare for the pat-down. The latter proved to be a little uncomfortable. I understand that these guys have to be extra careful and nothing can be left to chance, but was it absolutely necessary to check underneath my gut for contraband?
The odds of catching a good opening band are slim to none, but I felt that Flesh Lights had a great energy to them. They may not have reinvented the wheel, but it was a fun blast of three-chord punk music. You really can’t go wrong there. The audience seemed to show them plenty of love, but perhaps it wasn’t the crowd for them. The Hives can get pretty crazy, no doubt, but Flesh Lights would’ve been better suited for maybe a Bouncing Souls or an Anti-Flag show.
Los Angeles “slacker punk” band FIDLAR (an acronym meaning “F**k It, Dog. Life’s A Risk”) was the second opener. Hailing from California they definitely have that laid-back West Coast style down to a science, with such gems as “Stoked And Broke,” one of their many odes to “surfing, skateboarding and rehab,” which go hand in hand according to their lead singer/guitarist Zac Carper.
I did notice that by the second half of their set the mosh pit got considerably larger and the crowd was beginning to warm up to them. The best part had to be the fact that their setlist was written on a cardboard sheet and their stage design consisted of a “banner,” which was the band’s name written in black marker on a white sheet. It was reminiscent of the famous “I Assure You, We’re Open” sign from the 1994 slacker comedy “Clerks.” During the last song my future Brother-In-Law made an offhand comment about how their music sounded like the ending credits music to a slacker comedy on the IFC Network. I was a little unsure whether or not that could be considered an insult or praise, but I was inclined to agree.
It’s been a while since I’ve listened to The Hives. I’ll admit I initially dismissed the band during the infamous “garage rock boom” of the early 00′s. Around the time of 2004′s “Dinosaur Hives” I realized I was being an idiot. Their music only improved over the years and their live show was off the wall. I pretty much knew I was going to be in for a good time once I saw that their roadies and tech crew were all dressed as ninjas. How many bands can say they’ve done that? I rest my case.
The crowd literally lost their shit during “Main Offender,” one of their more popular tracks off their breakthrough album “Veni Vidi Vicious.” You rarely get that level of energy at shows anymore. I’m not talking violent moshing but rather people just having a great time. The mid-song banter was chock full of witty anecdotes from frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist’s with such hilarious gems like, “We don’t just get paid in money. We also get paid in applause.”
As can be expected, the newer material from their latest album “Lex Hives” weren’t met with as much excitement. Of the new songs “Our Time Has Come” really showcased the band’s musical range as opposed to just churning out 2-minute ragers. I especially dug the Iggy Pop-like intro before kicking into high gear. Had I not been enjoying the easily-accessible bar on the third floor mezzanine I would’ve probably been down there moshing like crazy as well come time for the band to play “No Pun Intended,” one of my favorite Hives tracks.
Not every song was a winner, though. “Wait A Minute” is just one of those songs that just screamed filler material. It never hurts to have some slower tracks to balance out the fast stuff, but it felt rather out of place compared to their other songs on the setlist. “It Won’t Be Long” was another slower-paced song, but it fared much better than its predecessor.
Thankfully they didn’t disappoint during the climax. Their closer “Tick, Tick, Tick” was what I was waiting for the whole night. I don’t know what it is about that song that does it for me, but it always gets me hyped.
At one point Almqvist asked, “How can we possibly make this show better for you and us?” that question was answered in a way that pretty much summed the entire concert. Once “No Pun Intended” came to its abrupt and powerful close cheers erupted throughout the venue. Almqvist jumped on the mic and simply blurts out “exactly.”
That is essentially the gist of what one can expect from The Hives’ live show: pure fun at maximum volume.