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The Hives @ the Rave

Sunday, May 18, 2008

May. 20, 2008
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After last night’s show at the Rave, I can finally understand (some of) the logic in the age-old myth that women are more attracted to pompous and conceited dudes. Like every other member of the near-capacity Sunday night crowd, I fell hard for The Hives, even after constant boasting rants from singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist. In his Swedish-cured accent he told us that what we were hearing from the PA speakers was “brilliant and the future.” He told the audience, “you need to applaud more,” and the audience complied. “If you are lucky enough and have the skill, you may a catch a drumstick, and you will keep it forever,” Almqvist presaged, “many will be thrown tonight.” The more unworthy Almqvist made me feel, the more I seemed to enjoy the show.

What separates the Hives from other cocky bands of late is the fact that underneath the persona, they are a really, really good live act. Opening their blistering, 17-song set with “Hey Little World” and “Try it Again,” from their recent and somewhat confusing The Black and WhiteAlbum, the group immediately lived up to past critical acclaims (and self-proclamations) of being one of the best bands to see. Other notable gems included “A Little More For Little You” and "Two-Timing Touch And Broken Bones" from 2004’s Tyrannosaurus Hives (perhaps one of the greatest album titles of all time) and “Die, All Right!” from 2002’s Veni Vidi Vicious.

“I have three things to say about the last song we just played,” decreed Almqvist after finishing “Won’t Be Long” to an unusually unenthused audience. “One, it was fantastic. Two, you didn’t seem to like it as much as you usually do. Three, I will give you another chance to clap louder.” Once again, in a complete display of obedience, the crowd roared in apology and begged for more.

After a very tight 65-minute performance, The Hives returned to the stage for a well-deserved (according to both Almqvist and audience) encore, and performed three more songs, including "Return the Favour" and their biggest hit to date, “Hate to Say I Told You So.” Sometimes cockiness can be more endearing than offensive. Luckily for The Hives, it reaches that ridiculous level of laughing with them more than at them, creating more of a bonding connection than malevolence.

Maybe next time your girlfriend leaves you for some prick wearing a polo shirt with a “popped” collar that she met on Water Street, you may have to give her the benefit of the doubt – arrogance can sometimes be charming.


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