all (absolutely amazing) photos: Alyssa Lesser
If The Hives are ever in town, count me in. I’ve never been a huge, super fan of their recordings, but live they are fun, care-free and can claim the coveted “sassy as fuck” title. Hands down, I love The Hives’ live show.
With The Donnas in tow, The Hives came to the 9:30 Club Saturday night, effectively ending their month-long Black and White Tour on a high note before taking a brief break and meeting back up again for a European tour. The (seemingly) musically mismatched group has its highs and lows together on stage, but the swagger of the Swedish Hives ultimately won over the sold out crowd at the club. I didn’t walk away disappointed and it didn’t seem like many did.
Combining the two fan bases has the potential for disaster, but it worked surprisingly well. Sandwiched between a 40-something woman jumping up and down like a 14-year-old and a group of 16-year-olds who refused to dance I think it’s pretty safe to say the crowd makeup was pretty much every social group DC has to offer. Fist-pumping obviously knows no bounds.
Hitting the stage about just after 10. The Donnas set a good pace for the night, sprinkling in new songs from last fall’s release “Bitchin'” with staples like “Who Invited You.” singer Brett Anderson’s calls to audience for being “ready for this shit,” kept the interest of the crowd through the 45-minute set, finally working working into their 2002 hit – “Take it Off.”
And just because it needs to be mentioned, bassist Maya Ford ‘s really terrible joke mid-set. “What do you call Batman and Robin after they’ve been run over with a steam roller?” she asked. “Flatman and Ribbon!” Cue the collective groans.
There isn’t much substance to The Donnas, but that’s not really the point. They show up, they rock and they pack up and move on to the next place. Their lyrics aren’t life-changing and they just want to have fun. It also doesn’t hurt that after interviewing drummer Torry Castellano, I’ve come to decide The Donnas are just an adorable group of hard rocking ladies out for a good time. I can handle that.
On to the main event, The Hives, in their ever-so-snappy black suits complete with black and white striped ties and white patent leather shoes. Seriously, so awesome. I missed their last show in October at the Black Cat and vowed to see them next time they were in town after my friends raved about it for days and tons of people I knew had put the show in their top 10 of the year. I’m so glad I did. Hell, even my friend Sam said he’d easily pay $100 to see them play. I don’t know that I’d go that far, but a band doesn’t get the named one of the best live shows for no reason.
Anyway, they rocked it. Opening up with “Try it Again,” they followed with “Hey Little World” and “Walk Idiot Walk,” they played for about 90 minutes, keeping the energy high and cocky banter even higher. Singer Pelle Almqvist let everyone know they were in DC ready to take over America. “This is where all the big decisions are made, yeah?” With brother Nicolas Arson, they were all over the stage and in the crowd. Pelle even hit the 9:30 Club theatrical pinnacle, the climb onto the stack at the side of the stage, interacting with the folks in the upstairs section.
As for the supposed prank by The Donnas during the set, I have to say it was a little weak. Outfitted in green, plastic St. Patrick’s Day hats and toy guitars they rushed the stage during “Walk Idiot Walk” dancing alongside each of The Hives. Cute, but ultimately a good prank? Nah. They wrapped up the regular set with the first single from “The Black and White Album” – “Tick Tick Boom,” coming back on the stage with a three-song encore which included “Two Timing Touch.” It was about that time that the crowd went absolutely nuts for about the umpteenth time. DC didn’t really dance, but there was lots and lots of movement – fist pumping, jumping and even some pushing. It was fun, really really fun. And next time The Hives are back in town, I’ll be there in a heartbeat.