"The Occult Roots of Alkaline Trio: Early Songs for Eerie People" was something that I have been looking forward to since I heard that the Alkaline Trio was going on tour. Over time it just got better and better with the announcement of Against Me! supporting, and finally the announcement that their debut album Goddamnit will be played in its entirety. This was already my show of the year candidate and it hadn't even happened yet.
For my money, Against Me! is one of the few bands that still keep me interested in new music; say what you want about their new label and how this affects their politics or standing with the scene, but that label switch has definitely not affected their ability to perform on that stage. We may have gotten there a little late and the only bar in the San Diego HOB is upstairs, so we could only see their performance from the televisions strewn throughout but they sounded tight and crisp just as I had expected. Basement shows may be where they have gotten their start and yes, a basement show has its charms, but hearing their music through quality speakers cannot be beat. They played through their last three full-lengths, closing with "Pints of Guinness Make You Strong" and "We Laugh At Danger (And Break All the Rules)" from Reinventing Axl Rose.
With a surprisingly short setup, Alkaline Trio took the stage as the crowd cheered on; after a quick hello they launched straight into "Cringe" and from there proceeded to play the entire album in order, which surprised me since I thought they would just have spread out the songs; it was however kind of nice to know which song was coming up next. Derek may not have been the original drummer for this album, but he handled it easily and these songs still sound great since so many years have passed since it was first released. Especially great to hear was "Cop," which had a ton of energy behind it, and "Trouble Breathing," which I had only heard once before from them. Since the last song of Goddamnit is acoustic, it started off a 5-song acoustic break, culminating with a surprising "Good Fucking Bye," which was originally off of Matt Skiba's solo split with Kevin Seconds. I thought that the end would soon come near since it had already been 17 songs, but that was only half the show, as they proceeded to play 14 more songs for an almost two-hour set with no break. The songs after Goddamnit were voted on by the Trio's fan club named the Blood Pact, and even though "My Friend Peter" didn't make the list, all is forgiven due to the fact that I got to hear "While You're Waiting." Not surprisingly, "Radio" made it on the list and closed out the show, leaving seemingly everyone very satisfied with the course of the evening.
After five full-lengths (or six if you count the self-titled album) and four EPs and a handful of singles, most bands would not do anything like the Trio is doing on this tour; this is total fan appreciation and it has been said that maybe more bands should really do this. I cannot stress the fact that if you are an Alkaline Trio fan and you are not already going to one of these shows, you need to get tickets, because I don't really see this as happening again anytime soon in this magnitude. As for me, I've got one more chance to see them when they swing back around with the Lawrence Arms, and I will be ready for another night of sheer bliss with the Alkaline Trio's early songs for eerie people.
Set list (pretty much in order):
- Blue in the Face (acoustic)
- Every Thug Needs a Lady (acoustic)
- Don't Say You Won't (acoustic)
- Emma (acoustic)
- Good Fucking Bye (acoustic)
- Maybe I'll Catch Fire / I Lied My Face Off
- Private Eye
- While You're Waiting
- Settle for Satin
- Blue Carolina
- Mercy Me
- Hell Yes
- This Could Be Love