My first Verizon Center show was indeed an interesting one. I saw Pink belt out some songs about love or something while hanging from this noodly contraption suspended above the stage. Beforehand, I witnessed a horrifying display of middle-aged women breaking out the worst of their Bar Mitzvah party dance moves in unison. And this happened in accordance with the SECOND time “Play That Funky Music” came through the sound system. One of my concertgoing pet peeves is when the filler playlist between acts repeats songs. Don’t test me, Verizon Center.
Luckily, there was a high point amidst the chaos, and it came from Swedish garage rockers The Hives. Since your friends are probably posting those BuzzFeed lists on each other’s Facebook walls at this very moment, I figured I’d take a stab at the click-baiting list format and see what it was all about. If you’re lucky, you might hallucinate while reading this and see a picture of Jennifer Lawrence making a constipated face.
So, without further ado, I give you:
7 Reasons Why You Should Drop Everything and See The Hives In Concert:
- Ninja Roadies!
If those two words in combination can’t win you over, I don’t know what will. But they weren’t just there to look good. One roadie in particular, who I will call “Ace Ninja,” was responsible for handling lead singer Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist’s mic cord, which went all over the place as Almqvist paraded around the stage and onto the floor. Those cords don’t hold themselves in place, and Ace Ninja and his stealthy team prevented any techie disasters. Four for you, Ace Ninja! You go, Ace Ninja!
- They’re classier than JT.
Sporting a suit and tie is one thing, but The Hives came onstage in matching tuxedos and top hats. It was a badass look, made even more badass by the way they pummeled through their three-minute garage rock ditties with the utmost vigor. It was loud, sweaty and glorious.
- They will drink your beer.
I think this is pretty self-explanatory, but there was something rather hilarious about seeing Almqvist shamelessly request a drink from the Pink fans in the pit, most of whom probably paid hefty sums for their tickets. One fan refused, to which Almqvist replied, “Cheapskate!” When he finally got a cup, he took a quick sip and gave it back to its owner. We’re not talking about million-dollar Kickstarter projects here; a sip of beer is pretty tame. Plus, Almqvist works hard out there. I’d be honored to quench his thirst.
- They will make you love them.
As a frontman, Almqvist is a cross between Billie Joe Armstrong and Borat. He’s been doing this long enough that he knows exactly how to keep a show engaging and leave no moment wasted. In doing so, he has this otherworldly demeanor that couldn’t possibly be fazed, akin to Sacha Baron Cohen courting Pamela Anderson without ever breaking character. And, using complex algorithms, Almqvist can predict exactly how much you will like a given song. For example, if you thought the last song was a 10/10, he said, the next one will be a 13/10. And the one after that a 27/10. I trust his calculations.
- They don’t take no for an answer.
“We are at the point in our relationship where I can ask you to do things for me,” Almqvist said before The Hives dove into “Tick Tick Boom.” Midway through the song, he instructed everyone to crouch down and jump up at his command. Many of the middle-aged women in the Verizon Center had probably been through divorce and childbirth. Who were they to take orders from a Swedish man in a top hat? Some were reluctant, or did that thing where they got down for a few seconds and then tried to subtly stand up again. But you don’t try to slip one past Almqvist—he’ll notice, and he’ll call you out on it. “Poor Pink fans,” I wrote in my notes. They were expecting an evening of self-empowered anthems and chiseled backup dancers, not this. Eventually, Almqvist was happy with the collective crouching and proceeded with the song’s explosive finish. A few thousand women subsequently popped ibuprofens.
- They’re tight as hell.
I’ve spent a lot of time writing about Almqvist and his antics, but they wouldn’t have been nearly as effective if he didn’t have a solid rhythm section behind him. Nicholaus Arson, Almqvist’s brother, manned the left side of the stage, thrashing at his guitar and providing shouty backup vocals. Guitarist Vigilanto Carlstroem, bassist Dr. Matt Destruction and drummer Chris Dangerous formed a tight little unit in the back, keeping things steady to complement the brothers’ relentless energy. The Hives may not have the guitar wizardry or cool factor of their contemporaries from the early 2000s garage rock revival, but they are masterful showmen.
- This was in the Verizon Center, opening for Pink.
Imagine The Hives playing to a sold out 9:30 Club, where everybody is there to see the band and scream with Almqvist through “Hate To Say I Told You So” and “Main Offender.” Almqvist would probably have no trouble getting a beer, maybe 10. And I’d have to think the energy in the place would coalesce into this massive cacophony of ridiculousness and distorted guitars and good times to be had by all. That’s what I want from a show, and The Hives certainly deliver.