You Have Been Rocked

The first thing that struck me about Tyrannosaurus Hives was thename, so ridiculous and yet so appropriate for a band whose shtickrests on self-laudatory Rolling Stones posturing. When the silverydisc began to spin, however, I found myself wondering where theHives that I knew and loved had gone. Despite having some standouttracks, on the whole the album felt weak compared to the assaultthat was “Veni Vidi Vicious,” with wimpy-sounding drums and aguitar sound boasting little of the snarl and grit that made it soappealing. Sure, there was some of the old fire, but nothingcompared to the bratty fury and rave-up of the olden days.

“The Hives changed with trends,” I thought to myself. “They’vegone new wave.” The wanky synthesizer was still ringing in my headas I shuffled up the stairs of the Roseland, ready to see the newhot hits, and ready to be disappointed by a bunch of bluster andnot enough rock.

Luckily, openers Sahara Hotnights proved to be a forbearance ofthings to come, with a womb of power chords birthing an occasionalwiry solo. Maria Andersson’s vox reminded me of Karen O, but withmore control and a much poppier delivery, only venturing intowarbling territory when necessary. After only a few songs, theaudience was treated to the spectacle of staring at an unlit neonHives sign in roasting temperatures for about thirty minutes as theband did god knows what.

I hear they like to drink a lot.

But when they finally got their shit together and began blaringrock and roll out of their sweet Hiwatt amps, the wait wasjustified. All the wimpiness of T. Hives was gone, and before foursongs were over the band was literally soaked in sweat (andprobably a good amount of water for effect.) Howlin’ Pelle Almquistdemanded adulation from the crowd as he strutted around the stage,greasy hair plastered to his head. Over the course of the evening,he would periodically demand more clapping and screaming fromaudience members, making wild eyes and speaking in corny gospelvoices about the prowess of the Hives.

In all fairness, they put on a damn good show. There were somesweet jumps and high kicks involved, especially during songs like”Outsmarted” (prefaced with a vaguely sly remark about people inthe United States being in that position) and “Main Offender.” Theintensity of the band’s performance was almost draining, and by thetime the show was over I felt like I was going to pass out.

It wasn’t until then, with my ears destroyed by the huge amountof treble produced and my proximity to the speaker, that I realizedthat the hooks of the new songs had burrowed deep into my brain.Maybe the production and mixing of the record sucked, but whoeverwrote the songs did a pretty good job. And the Hives’ willingnessto back up their poses with solid showmanship didn’t hurt, either -something that a lot of more “credible” bands should take notes on,instead of just staring, forlorn, at their Saucony Jazz the entirenight.