The Hives/Sahara Hotnights/Reigning Sound - live in Chicago (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Hives / Sahara Hotnights / Reigning Sound

live in Chicago (2004)

live show

On Monday, July 26 I had the pleasure of experiencing an intense aural ass-kicking on a beautiful Chicago summer night - but enough about the weather, I wasn't outside in the cool breeze. I was lucky enough to be sweating profusely along with a capacity crowd in the smoke-filled Metro watching The Hives, a band that has been fortunate to make it onto radio and video play lists, but also a band that has been mislabeled and passed up by majority of America's rock audience, which is unfair and unfortunate, but a situation that has yet to phase the five Swedes who are in the beginning of a national tour in support of their fantastic third LP Tyrannosaurus Hives. With razor tight musicianship, rabid energy, a great catalogue of tunes, and some sharp suits, The Hives are the real deal, a fact that wasn't over anyone's head on Monday night. "Eye-contact, it's all about the eye-contact. I like to see the whites of your eyes before I kick your ass with rock and roll," exclaimed singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist as he connected to several hundred strangers and, as promised, handed out asses branded with great rock and roll music.

Paired with fellow Swedes Sahara Hotnights, the female quartet most certainly won over the audience with a performance and repertoire that can only be explained as the little sister rock to big brother Hives. It's hard not to enjoy catchy tunes played by four attractive, sweaty chicks, an opinion that was shared by all in attendance many of which purchased copies of the upcoming Kiss and Tell at the merch table and pulled the promo posters off the walls. Reigning Sound out of Memphis played first on the bill before the Hotnights, but there isn't much to report other than they need a lot of rehearsal, personal practice time, a singer with a voice, and they should never ever ever ever butcher Sam Cooke on stage again. Ever. And then out came The Hives, and it was better than good, it was fantastic.

Plowing through the bulk of 2000's Veni Vidi Vicious as well as Tyrannosaurus Hives, with "A.K.A. I-D-I-O-T" from 1997's Barely Legal for half of the two-song encore, Pelle and company played every song with incredible precision, dissecting the rhythms and riffs at top speeds that never lagged nor rushed, staying right in the pocket and commanded the stage with a swagger that can only be held by true veterans. One of the stage highlights was stopping on a dime during "Diabolic Scheme" to pose motionless for a minute and then jumping right back to the song without a hitch. This is not something that happens without a lot of work, and the work is what separates The Hives from every one of their peers; full of showmanship and musicianship, these guys are the real deal. A red neon sign with the band's moniker hung behind the five as they shook and shimmied on stage, stepping on the guard rails and leaning down into the audience, playing as if it was a friend's basement party and they'd never sold a record. "Now that's punk rock," Pelle exclaims after "Missing Link", a statement that couldn't be truer. Within only an hour my neck and back were jelly, I was exhausted and I agreed with Pelle about punk rock; it's short, loud, and brutal. With fast tempos and furious playing, it's impossible to deny how good these guys are. When Pelle claims that the next song is your new favorite it's hard not believe him, and when guitarist Nicholaus Arson blows on his picking hand it's hard not to believe that it's on fire, and after seeing The Hives it's hard not to believe in their world and believe that it is one of the best possible.

To see is to believe and having seen with my own two eyes, The Hives certainly are without a doubt law, and you, the non-believer, is crime. Pick up their records and go see their concerts because this band has the legs to carry them a long ways.