Alkaline Trio / Saves the Day - live in Worcester  (Cover Artwork)

Alkaline Trio / Saves the Day

live in Worcester (2009)

live show

When you've seen a band enough times, you come to know what to expect from their live shows. You know the songs they're definitely going to play, you know what the encore will be, and you know which songs everyone will sing along to the loudest. There's nothing wrong with this, for if a band puts on a great show that the fans are happy with, why make any changes? This is what I expected from Alkaline Trio's headlining show at the Palladium in Worcester on May 2nd. The show was my fifth time seeing the band in the past year, the first two being headlining shows, and the latter two supporting Rise Against. To my (very pleasant) surprises, the band did not follow the normal formula, instead playing a set that contained almost none of the songs I had heard them play in the past, perfectly mixing tracks both old and new.

The show began with a 30-minute set from Nightmare of You, a band that was once considered "the next big thing" after the release of their self-titled debut in 2005, but has done very little since that point. The group's set list consisted mainly of tracks from that debut, along with a new cut from their second album, which is set to be released this July. The band's performance was marred by the borderline awful sound at the Palladium, as Brandon Reilly's smooth vocals were often drowned out by the drone of Brandon Meyer's basslines. The crowd, which was rather sparse at this point, was quite unenthusiastic with only a few in attendance bobbing their heads or showing any familiarity with the band.

Set list (I think):

  1. I Don't Want to Dance Anymore
  2. My Name Is Trouble
  3. Amsterdam
  4. The Days Go by Oh So Slow
  5. I Want to Be Buried in Your Backyard
  6. Why Am I Always Right
  7. Heaven Runs on Oil
Next was Saves the Day, a band that has maintained a rabid fanbase despite the fact their last three records haven't been all that successful. This was evident by the amount of fans who tried to squeeze their way to the stage after Nightmare of You's set. I've seen Saves the Day a number of times over the past four years, and I hate to admit it, but this was certainly the worst performance I've witnessed from the band. While they sounded fine, the set list, and the length of the set itself, left most of the Saves the Day fans in the crowd very disappointed. For one, the band only played for about 40 minutes, and for fans that are accustomed to seeing Saves the Day play much longer headlining sets, this came as somewhat of a shock. Next, the band did include a few old favorites in the set list, but they were mixed in with too many new songs, which for the most part acted as crowd-killers. While cuts like "Radio" and "Driving in the Dark" are fine songs, they certainly aren't the band's best work, and instead of sing-alongs, they elicited mainly blank stares. This is not to say there weren't some high points, such as "Shoulder to the Wheel" and "Freakish," but for the most part, they were too few and far between. Saves the Day made matters worse by closing the set with "Kaleidoscope," a long and dull number off their latest album that completely drained the energy from the room.

Set list (might not be exact):
  • Anywhere with You
  • Always Ten Feet Tall
  • Radio
  • Where Are You
  • Shoulder to the Wheel
  • Eulogy
  • Freakish
  • Can't Stay the Same
  • Driving in the Dark
  • Head for the Hills
  • Rocks Tonic Juice Magic
  • Kaleidoscope
Luckily, Alkaline Trio would take a completely different route during their set, playing older fan favorites that they had been neglecting on previous tours. After casually walking out on stage after an agonizing 35-minute wait, the band would greet the crowd and begin the set with "My Friend Peter," a fan favorite that instantly worked the audience into a frenzy. Next was "If We Never Go Inside," a track from 2003's Good Mourning. This hinted at what was to come, for the band played more songs from this record than off any other albums, including last year's Agony & Irony, which was only represented by two songs.

While Alkaline Trio fans seemed to have mixed feelings towards Good Mourning, it was the album that introduced me to the band, so I was loving every minute of it. The band would also play "One Hundred Stories," "Donner Party," "Fatally Yours" and "All on Black," from this record, as well as "This Could Be Love" to close the set, and "Every Thug Needs a Lady" as the first song of the encore. Other old favorites included in the set were "Cringe," the lone Goddamnit song represented, "Cooking Wine," and "I'm Dying Tomorrow," all three of which received huge reactions from the crowd. While everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves at the show, the crowd was certainly the tamest I had seen at an Alkaline Trio show, possibly the result of the more obscure set list that had some of the younger fans scratching their heads and waiting for more Agony & Irony tracks. The band, however, would only offer "Calling All Skeletons" and "I Found Away," from that record, ignoring lead single "Help Me," and announcing about halfway through the set they had parted ways with Epic Records.

The crowd seemed less than surprised by this news (the idea of Alkaline Trio on a major label was always somewhat odd), and the band debuted a new song for the first time. While the song sounded good, the band would apologize for the "B" effort. Lead singer Matt Skiba told the crowd they hoped to get in the studio this summer and then self-release a new album next fall. Throughout the set, Skiba and bassist Dan Andriano were more talkative than I had seen them, and they both sounded great when actually performing their material. At one point, Skiba went off on a tangent about the greatness of `70s rock band Grand Funk Railroad. While the band had looked slightly uncomfortable in their opening role for Rise Against the last time I saw them live, they were certainly in their element tonight.

The band would close the show as they normally do, playing "This Could Be Love," leaving the stage, and then returning for an encore that concluded with "Radio," which of course inspired an enormous sing-along. Overall, a show that got off to a disappointingly slow start turned out to be as memorable as any I've seen, thanks solely to the performance of Alkaline Trio, a band that knows exactly what their fans want and seems to deliver every single time.

Set list:
  • My Friend Peter
  • If We Never Go Inside
  • Burn
  • Fatally Yours
  • I'm Dying Tomorrow
  • All on Black
  • I Found Away
  • Donner Party
  • Cooking Wine
  • Calling All Skeletons
  • Sadie
  • One Hundred Stories
  • The Poison
  • Cringe
  • This Could Be Love
  • Every Thug Needs a Lady
  • Radio