Alkaline Trio

support The Hot Lies
author PP date 07/03/06 venue The Hifi Bar, Melbourne, AUS

Alkaline Trio had easily sold out the 1,000 capacity Hi-Fi Bar in central Melbourne. After all, this is a band that almost never writes bad songs, and has released seminal punk rock classics such as "Goddammit" and "From Here To Infirmary". I was surprised to find a very short queue at the door opening time, as I was prepared for yet another 30 minute wait as I'm used to from the UK during sold out gigs. The venue is in two floors, not much different from the Trädgårn Restaurant in Gothenburg, Sweden. The floor, however, is divided into the middle-section which is lower down than the sides to prevent all-around mosh pits. But as you'll soon discover, there was no sign of any circle pits tonight.

To kick off the night, The Hot Lies, currently one of the most prominent post-hardcore group from Australia, kicked off the night with some solid semi-screamed, semi sung out material. Without knowing more than two songs of the band, it was very difficult to get into them, but at least half of the band put on a good effort. The guitarist on the left of the stage was going crazy, circleing around, headbanging and whatnot. However, the one on the right seemed just to be standing still, and he wasn't even the lead guitarist. He was doing the support riffs which didn't seem too difficult, but even so, he was just standing still. When the singer and the other guitarist are putting in a 100% effort, it distorts my view of the band's performance when I see one members just standing around, as if he was nailed to the stage.

Not too many people in the crowd knew the band, so there was no chance for any singing along or any mosh pits. Most people just seemed to stand still and give them a few nods here and there. But from me, they received a little fewer nods. They sound like a million other bands I know, and those bands just do it better live.

5

Now, last time I saw Alkaline Trio perform live it was in a 5,000 capacity venue that was half empty. The band looked bored on stage and clearly wasn't enjoying themselves. But this time around the vibe was completely different. As soon as the band entered the stage with huge smiles on and told us how great it is to be back in Australia, I knew tonight was going to be different. Throughout the entire show Matt and Rob were both smiling and putting in a great effort. Like I wrote in my last gig review of them, Alkaline Trio is usually not about bullshit. They come up on stage, don't talk, and play the show. But tonight, Matt was constantly interacting with the crowd, and jumping around the stage, which is rare for the band. For instance, before the band played "Bleed", he demonstrated his dark humour by saying "This next song is about Jesus... it's called Bleed!".

By reading the previous paragraph, it's easy to have the misconception that the band will have a high grade for their show. I'll now try to justify my reasoning for giving them only a 6'er for the show. First of all, the sound quality sucked ass. It was difficult to recognize the lyrics (even though I knew them off my heart) at times, and other times it just seemed messy. Second of all, if you have a song as good as "Armageddon", and almost after each song you hear the crowd chanting "Armageddon!", and choose not to play it, you're committing something what I'd like to call a gig-suicide. Also no "Stupid Kid"? What were they thinking. The gig started off great though with "Private Eye", which blended straight into "Mercy Me", but after that, the quality of songs started decreasing. There were the occasional highlights like "Cop", "Maybe I'll Catch Fire" and "This Could Be Love", during which the crowd sang 'LOVE FOR FIRE' louder than I ever though was possible, but it just doesn't justify leaving out "Armageddon", arguably the best song the band has ever written. During the "Crimson" songs the crowd didn't seem happy. Nobody was jumping around, and few people were singing along. It was clear that everyone was here to see the classics like "Cringe", "My Little Needle" and "Fuck You Aurora". It's not like Metallica leaves out "One" from their setlist.

Now the next criticism is directed at the crowd. Are Aussies just plain boring or what was going on? I didn't see a single mosh pit or circle pit. I barely saw any jumping around either? You can't even compare it to Britain, where people go absolutely nuts over the headlining bands. Where were the crowdsurfers? OK, I do hate them, but still it gives a sign that something's wrong. These facts together conclude what I already thought after seeing them the first time: Alkaline Trio are boring live. Specially their older songs NEED people moving, and needs the band rip the stage apart by jumping around by maniacs. Next time around I'll think twice before buying a ticket to see them. What kind of encore is playing "Time To Waste" and "Radio" anyway?

6

Setlist:

1. Private Eye

2. Mercy Me

3. My Friend Peter

4. Prevent This Tragedy

5. Cop

6. We've Had Enough

7. You've Got So Far To Go

8. Queen Of Pain

9. Maybe We'll Catch Fire

10. Death Bed

11. I Was A Prayer

12. Bleed

13. Emma

14. Crawl

15. Warbrain

16. Poison

17. Sadie

18. This Could Be Love

--Encore--

19. Time To Waste

20. Radio

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