Alkaline Trio

support Sunshine + Mike Park + Test Icicles
author PP date 17/11/05 venue Brixton Academy, London, UK

I was amazed when I heard that Alkaline Trio was playing Brixton Academy. Carling Academy Brixton houses 5,500 people on a sold out night with floor-capacity of almost 2,000 people. Was Alkaline Trio really THIS big in the UK? No, they aren't. The promoters must have overestimated the amount of people buying a ticket to an Alkaline Trio concert, as the floor was half full, with the balcony completely shut off. The same amount of people could have easily fitted into Astoria, so why they chose Brixton, is out of understanding. Additionally, Brixton is notorious for it?s beautiful inner d?cor, set up to look like an old theatre, and for it?s totally random sound quality. One day you have The Mars Volta performing their sonic soundscape with perfect quality, and the next day you have Story Of The Year having half-assed quality.

Mike Park

Mike Park, a personal friend of Alkaline Trio's guitarist Matt, was added to the bill about two months before the tour. To be honest, it looked like a friend-to-friend favor before the actual performance. If you?ve read some of my live reviews in the past, you already know that I?m not a fan of acoustic acts, let alone solo acts, which Mike Park?s set was ? a one man acoustic performance. But tonight, I was positively surprised. Besides for his acoustic guitar and the other essentials, Mike Park had a projector with him, producing both still images and motion pictures onto a tiny screen, that only the first five or so rows were able to see clearly. I?m damn happy of going close enough to watch the messages appearing on the screen, as it was displaying messages and statements against racism, or rather the struggle as a coloured person around the world. Terrible, terrible historic acts against coloured people were shown with messages flowing across the screen indirectly urging people to be more understanding of the struggles coloured people have, and to some extent still go through today. All of this was supported by joyful, cheery singing over standardised acoustic riffs, as if it was implying ?the ends justify the means?. This was the first time I have ever enjoyed an acoustic set.


Test Icicles

Next up was Test Icicles. I had no idea what to expect from a band with such a ridiculous name. As they took the stage and bursted into their first song, it wasn?t anything like what you could possibly deduce from the name of the band. It?s safe to say that I?ve never heard (or seen) anything even remotely like them. Think of The Blood Brothers? aggressive screamo vocals, alternated with Beecher-style desperate clean singing, over Sonic Youth?s most experimental material with a touch? of house music and techno on top of it. Hard to imagine? It was hard to listen, and watch, too! Even the notorious At The Drive-In would fall short on the amount of madness constantly going on the stage. Their instruments were all over the place, all the time. On top of their heads, flying around them in circles, on the floor, against the amps, and everywhere you can imagine and more than that! At first it seemed like the bassist was the lead singer, only to be switched to the guitarist as a lead singer, then they would randomly switch instruments, then leave out the bass guitar completely and start playing keyboards. Everything was falling apart onstage, starting from the keyboard-stand while it was still being played, all the way to the microphone stands which were flying all over the venue. Virtually every 30 seconds a member of the stagecrew would come on stage to pick something up, only to see it fall down again. This is a band with a live performance and style of music so unique, that they have a great shot of becoming one of those cult-bands much like Sonic Youth and Helmet, who just make the strangest noises ever but yet somehow manage to keep their songs astonishingly beautiful. Unfortunately, their set suffered from the horrible sound quality of Brixton, so it wasn't as fully enjoyable as it could've been.


Alkaline Trio

When the lights were finally shut down and Alkaline Trio took the stage, I was expecting something really, really good. After all, already the stagelight towers resembled long pieces of ivory sticking up from the ground forming a shape of something that could be thought of as a sacrificial altar. Before the concert, I had read somewhere that Alkaline Trio's live show is not about bullshit. They just get up on stage, play their set, and leave, which is exactly what they did. They stood on a trio-formation almost as if they were glued to the ground. This never leaves a good impression, especially if you've got several hi-octane punk rock classics in your back catalogue like "Armageddon" and "Cringe". It didn't help them either, that the sound quality was, once again, absolutely horrible. Thank you Brixton for me not being able to hear "Private Eye", one of my favorite songs, properly. But my guess is that they had just tuned the speakers to fit the more polished, mellow new songs like "Back To Hell" and "Sadie", which brings me into my second point of criticism. Nineteen (19) songs. No "Fuck You Aurora", "Stupid Kid" or "Cop"? I know it's not the "Goddammit" or not even the "From Here To Infirmary" tour, but it's not like Metallica leaves out "Master Of Puppets" from their 2005 tour's setlist. I don't understand how you can just decide not to include songs that have achieved a legendary status within the punk rock scene, and have helped to shape the sound of countless important bands today.

The atmosphere towards the end of the set was flagged and apathetic to say the least. Alkaline Trio just isn't one of those bands, whose newest album has attracted a massive increase in fanbase and a decrease in average age, and thus most of the people here were from the "Maybe I'll Catch Fire"-era and before that. It could be seen on almost everyone's faces that the concert wasn't meeting their expectations, especially when the last song was the slow, almost acoustic "Radio". After all, it's very rare for Alkaline Trio to tour the Europe at all these days. Only if the sound quality would've been better....



  • 1. Back To Hell
  • 2. We've Had Enough
  • 3. Maybe I'll Catch Fire
  • 4. Mercy Me
  • 5. Private Eye
  • 6. Cringe
  • 7. I Lied My Face Off
  • 8. Bleed
  • 9. Stained In Satin
  • 10. Death Bed
  • 11. She Took Him To The Lake
  • 12. Sadie
  • 13. Smoke
  • 14. Warbrain
  • 15. The Poison
  • 16. Armageddon
  • 17. This Could Be Love
  • --Encore--
  • 18. Time To Waste
  • 19. Radio

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