The Hives with Fidlar
Better than... getting kicked in the face with a bandy skate.
Only the Hives can pull out a pan-punk-genre-fest kumbaya like they did last night -- even if they're hitting the bottom of their bag of schticks. They're Swedish, they're clean cut, and they're slightly unhinged, which should give them carte blanche in this town. Whether it's their self-effacing stage antics or their variety of black and white punk rock uniforms or their energy, there's a reason, ahem, bigger music publications consider them a must-see live act. Even with all of that, local garage punks Fidlar still very nearly put them on their asses.
With their boppy grooves and a somewhat straightforward (or so we were told) cover of Joy Division's "Digital," Luis & the Wildfire shimmied and shook the night off to an old-school start.
Then, Fidlar. We obviously have a serious punk rock boner for Fidlar -- how could we not? They're local and they fucking kill.
The Wiltern, however, proved to be an almost awkward venue for a band that plays backyards and street corners for weed and beer. The cavernous art-deco space nearly dwarfed these punk rockers. How can you go about filling that giant space as an opening act for a garage rock comedy troupe? Rocking the fuck out. And they did their best to do exactly that. No frills, no costumes, no backdrops.
The over-35 crowd seemed baffled by their energy. Well, one guy got his own pit going -- windmilling around as ladies giggled and sipped cocktails. The band, stoked to be home (even thought they just played FYF) called out Highland Park and Echo Park, "Where's the Eastside?" There might have have been a spasm or two from the crowd during the bouncy "Max Don't Surf."
Before they closed out, lead singer Zac Carper issued the crowd an indifferent, "I dare you guys to move around." Sadly, they did ... right up to the bar for a $14 beer.
The Hives, in a comical counterpoint, had their whole goofy hoopla nailed down. With a puppet-master backdrop, they pranced out in full white tie -- top hats, tails. Is this post-post mod / triple-post garage? Whatever.
Lead singer "Howlin'" Pelle Almqvist and his cohorts demonstrated their intense garage rock scholarship, all the way down to the fake rock-jive-chatter. "Babies and gentlemen, lots of magicians in this town, but very few wizards ...this is wizardry!" Almqvist announced in an affected drawl before he ripped into another uptempo rock number.
The crowd got into it, of course. The Wiltern floor's second tier even had its own pit of about ten to fifteen meaty dudes.
Of course, the Hives closed out with some of their bigger hits like "Hate to Say I Told You So" and a raucous "Tick Tick Boom" -- where, before the final chorus, the band froze motionless like sweaty wax statues before sending Almqvist into the crowd for an even longer pause. Then there was a full-blown rock out.
As silly as the routine gets, hey, they do put on a hell of a show.
Personal Bias: Not much. Oh, a guy in a Hives t-shirt tried to steal our bike in college. We got it back.
The Crowd: Late 40s moms and early 20s dudes. Oh, and a punk rock dude cut straight from a Halloween costume catalog -- bright pink mohawk, boots, braces, the works.
Random Notebook Dump: "I'm pretty sure that's teenage Pat Smear -- having just walked through a time warp to be here for some reason. He's definitely here for Fidlar."
Set list below.
Yeah, you try grabbing that setlist from a pack of ferocious Hollywood cougars.
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