The Hives

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author PP date 16/08/17 venue Malmöfestivalen, Malmö, SWE

Though the primary focus of Malmöfestivalen has never been the music, each year they pick a few gems that make it worthwhile taking the trip over Øresund to Malmö city center, especially given that the festival is free-of-charge. The scenes are spread across the city from a small dancing stage next to the central station to the main stage sitting right by the central square in the city. In previous years bands ranging from NOFX and No Use For A Name to Rival Sons and Gaslight Anthem have caught our interest, and in the 2017 edition, homegrown garage rock mainstays The Hives, as well as anthemic hardcore warriors The Bronx, were the highlights. Unfortunately, we only made the trip for the former, but reports by others suggest The Bronx were fantastic earlier in the week.

A few minutes walk away from the main stage is a street food haven well-worth visiting. Mobile food stands from all around the world have been setup by a cozy park, so whether your taste buds crave authentic fish tacos, Greek-style gyros, Colombian food, or Hungarian specialties, your needs would be taken care of here. The only minus, of course, are the authoritarian alcohol laws in the country, which prevent the sale of refreshments outside allocated zones, including the stage areas. But being the Vikings that we are, the Danes usually bring their own from across the border and use the big crowds to their advantage.

The Hives

At precisely 21:30, megalomaniac Swedish entertainers The Hives hop on stage. They're known for their outrageous antics and frontman Pelle Almqvist's hilariously raw arrogance about believing The Hives are the best band in the entire world. Tonight, the stage is decorated with giant glowing H I V E S letters, and the band themselves have custom-made suits which are half black, half white, as they kick off with a JAWS! theme as an introduction before flowing directly into "Come On!". Their stage energy is impressive: each member is constantly seeking out platforms to jump off of, topped by Pelle Almqvist swinging his microphone stand around in the process. Did I mention it is custom-made, too? He can push and throw it in any direction, and it'll return to him like a boomerang. Why? Because he can.

Garage rock hit "Hate To Say I Told You So" gets everyone in the rather sizable crowd clapping early on, and by the fourth song "Wait A Minute", Pelle is already off stage, far down the middle of the crowd to get up close. "We're going to have a yelling contest", he announces, using hand signals to orchestrate which parts of the crowd are supposed to be loud. Nothing new or particularly special there, all bigger bands do this, but that it continues well into the different songs from throughout the night is hilarious. It could be mid-song and Pelle raises one of his hands and that part of the crowd would respond. In fact, at a later point, they announce that the next song they're gonna play starts with "Malmö shouting and applauding", and refuse to start the song until there's enough applause.

"96% of the people here are The Hives fans.", Pelle proclaims at one point. "We just gotta convince the rest of them to become Hives fans too", he continues, demonstrating the tongue-in-cheek "we're the best band in the world" routine that I spoke about earlier. Everything about their stage presence actually suggests just that: the hand gestures are grandiose, the guitarist is often found lying on the scene playing his guitar upside down, and the platform jumps keep increasing in frequency and size.

It's easy to call The Hives irrelevant because of the simple nature of their garage rock/punk, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The crowd reaction to "Walk Idiot Walk" is vast, which sees the band unsurprisingly acting like idiots on stage, and we're all singing along to "Tick Tick Boom" which sees the band freeze completely on stage. Tonight, Pelle holds the crowd in the palm of his hand through a charismatic and energetic performance, which is epitomized by the dramatic fashion in which band members are introduced by the end of "Tick Tick Boom": "The TYRANNOSAURUS REX of guitar", et cetera, while Pelle himself walks far into the crowd and has everyone sitting down before introducing himself as basically the manifestation of God himself on planet earth. It's hilarious, and the music is rock solid, especially given the setlist which even airs a few solid cuts from 2000's "Veni Vidi Vicious".

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Come On!
  • 2. Hey Little World
  • 3. Hate to Say I Told You So
  • 4. Wait A Minute
  • 5. You Got It All... Wrong
  • 6. Main Offender
  • 7. Take Back the Toys
  • 8. Die, All Right!
  • 9. My Time Is Coming
  • 10. Won't Be Long
  • 11. Walk Idiot Walk
  • 12. Try It Again
  • 13. Tick Tick Boom
  • --Encore--
  • 14. Bigger Hole To Fill
  • 15. Patrolling Days

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