Alkaline Trio/Smoking Popes/The Gamits - live in Denver (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Alkaline Trio / Smoking Popes / The Gamits

live in Denver (2011)

live show

The last time Alkaline Trio played a headlining show in Denver, it was the night after This Addiction dropped, and it was raining profusely. Flash-forward a year-and-a-half to this night, the eve of the release of their acoustic album, Damnesia. The rain outside refused to quit, so I walked into the venue feeling a bit of déjà vu.

The Trio always seem to bring along a strong supporting cast with them on their headlining tours, and this night was no exception. Kicking things off were local punk rock heroes the Gamits. This was my first time seeing the band, which I really have no excuse for, seeing as I spent a good year-and-a-half at art school in Denver. To put it lightly, they absolutely killed it. Their set was mostly comprised of songs from last year's excellent Parts. The songs from that album sounded nearly identical to their studio counterparts, but with even more urgency and energy. Chris Fogal's vocals have become quite raspy over the years, and it was interesting hearing that applied to the few older songs they played, like "Bloodstains/Picture Frames" and closer "Last of the Mullets". My only disappointment with their set was not getting to hear personal favorite "The Still and the Lost", but it was still a hell of a way to kick off the evening.

Set list:

  1. Falling Apart
  2. No One Cares Why Should I
  3. Sorry Song
  4. Bloodstains/Picture Frames
  5. Delusional
  6. Love Suicidal
  7. Never Before Noon
  8. This Shell
  9. Last of the Mullets

Chicago legends the Smoking Popes were up next, and I was just excited for them as I was for the headliners. I probably listen to the Trio more, but I've seen them so many times I've lost count. This was my first live experience with the Popes, and hopefully it won't be my last. They played a great mix of new and old with a youthful energy not always seen in bands of their age. It's always great when you can tell that a band is really enjoying what they do. Matt Skiba joined the band on stage to sing the "ba ba ba da da"s in "Writing a Letter", and the band dedicated "Megan" to Bayside, as a thank you for covering it, and bringing the band to a new audience.

Set list:
  1. Not That Kind of Girlfriend
  2. Wish We Were
  3. Rubella
  4. Can't Find It
  5. If You Don't Care
  6. No More Smiles
  7. Gotta Know
  8. Diary of a Teen Tragedy
  9. Ramblin/Off
  10. Writing a Letter [w/ Matt Skiba]
  11. Megan
  12. Need You Around
  13. I Know You Love Me

And with that, it was time for Alkaline Trio. Last time I saw the band, they made a huge dramatic entrance, with fog machines, circus music, and a banner drop. This time they just kind of wandered onto the stage without so much as the lights dimming. I didn't even recognize that it was Dan Andriano onstage, and not some roadie doing one last sound check until he looked up at the crowd and started playing an ominous bass intro. From there, the rest of the band joined him and launched into "In Vein" from everybody's least favorite Trio record, Agony & Irony. It was a curious choice of opener to say the least, but it got the crowd moving for the first time all night.

After that, it was pretty much all old-school Trio for the next 30 minutes or so. Somewhat surprisingly, tracks collected on the group's self-titled compilation album featured the most heavily. Other surprises included B-side "Old School Reasons" and Goddamnit's "San Francisco". Yet this tour is in support of Damnesia, and as such, the last third or so of the group's set was composed of acoustic renditions of old favorites like "Clavicle" and "You've Got So Far to Go", as well as new songs from the record, such as the fun sing-along "Olde English 800" (try not to get it stuck in your head. It's impossible), and their cover of the Violent Femmes' classic "I Held Her in My Arms", for which they were joined by the Smoking Popes. It's interesting that the band seemed to ignore the "hits", like "Private Eye", "This Could Be Love" and "Radio", even though all three songs make altered appearances on Damnesia.

Alkaline Trio are always worth checking out when they come to town, but with this semi-acoustic tour, they're offering a unique experience that may not happen again. Don't miss this one!

Set list:
  1. In Vein
  2. Snake Oil Tanker
  3. Fine Without You
  4. Cooking Wine
  5. Hating Every Minute
  6. Old School Reasons
  7. I Lied My Face Off
  8. Trouble Breathing
  9. San Francisco
  10. If You Had a Bad Time (acoustic)
  11. Clavicle (acoustic)
  12. Calling All Skeletons (acoustic)
  13. You've Got So Far to Go (acoustic)
  14. Olde English 800 (acoustic)
  15. I Held Her in My Arms [Violent Femmes cover w/ Smoking Popes]
  16. Bleeder
  17. Fine
  18. Mr. Chainsaw
  19. 97