The Hives, Hailing From Sweden, Make Their Pithy Punk Presence Known at the Warfield

Nathan Yan/Staff

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The Hives would like to inform you that they are, without question, the greatest band on the planet. It doesn't matter whether that's true or not, for as their singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist declared at the Warfield Tuesday night, "What I say is true and what I say goes." But were these Swedish imports able to back up numerous claims that the Hives will be your new favorite band?

Yes, actually.

From the instant Pelle scissor-kicked his way on stage for "Hey Little World" until the moment he strutted off after the energetic "Return The Favour," both from The Black and White Album, the spectators were his disciples. Performing as though he were the lovechild of Mick Jagger and Iggy Pop, the frontman had the crowd hanging on his every move. If you were able to take your eyes off this hip-shakin' Swede, however, the show wasn't over. The fact that Nicholaus Arson was even able to play guitar through his intensely spastic motions was a spectacle in itself. There was something endearing about a bear of a man strumming a guitar next to an exceptionally sweaty bassist, who looked as though his life depended on plucking away at his instrument.

The band is often tagged as a leading group in the garage-rock revival; however this label seems almost inappropriate. While it is evident that the Hives favor a "back to basics" approach to rock 'n' roll, they aren't going out of their way to fly the flag of a genre that prides itself on being raw and-more often than not-sloppy. The Hives are far from sloppy. Musically, the band is calculated and precise, with sharp guitars bouncing over tight beats. And visually, they know a thing or two about looking good. Apart from the neon red sign that bore their name, everything on stage was black and white, from matching prep-school blazers to identical amplifiers, showing their obsession with uniformity and absolute professionalism. After all, they're not performing simply because they want to; they're doing it because the world needs them to.

Before the Hives ripped through an hour-long set that mostly stayed away from their breakthrough album Veni Vidi Vicious and instead drew heavily from their two most recent full-lengths, the Eagles Of Death Metal took the stage. EoDM seemed almost humbled to be living out their rock 'n' roll fantasies in front of such an appreciative group. Their faux "we're so sexy we can't even handle it" act was overshadowed by their obvious excitement to play for a crowd so welcoming of their sound. Compared to the headlining act, the openers were a ragtag bunch. However, the crowd didn't seem to mind, and lead singer Jesse Hughes thanked them at any chance he could.

While the Hives' energy Tuesday night seemed unrestrained, Almqvist declared that the band was "mentally, physically and constitutionally in a state of shambles." Guitarist Vigilante Carlstroem had recently checked into and out of a hospital in LA, and Howlin' Pelle was running a temperature of 100 degrees. According to him, though, this fever was to the audience's benefit.

"This is basically me set to stun," he announced. "If I get any better than this we're all screwed. This place will burn to the ground!"

After only the second song of the set, Almqvist proclaimed, "This town was built by people in search of gold. Well, here I am!" Who knew finding it would be so black and white?

Scissor-kick it with Bryan at [email protected]

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