The Hives’ Resurgence: An Epic Night of Rock ‘n’ Roll At The Belasco Thoughts+Photos: The Hives at The Belasaco 11/15/23
LOS ANGELES, CA- In the vibrant year of 2004, I had already swapped my legal briefs for the electric rhythms of the music industry. My journey led me to an exciting encounter with a band signed to Interscope Records. Through my newfound connections in the industry, a member of their A&R department urged me to give “Walk Idiot, Walk,” the latest single by The Hives, a listen.
Truth be told, I wasn’t too familiar with The Hives at the time. However, my colleague’s effusive praise was enough to propel me to my local record store after work. There, I laid hands on the album that would forever change my musical perspective – “Veni Vidi Vicious.” It was a sonic powerhouse, a wild concoction of punk and garage rock that brimmed with boundless energy. The anthem of this record, “Party Party!”, screamed its ethos loud and clear, inviting me to join the revelry.
As fate would have it, The Hives graced us with “Tyrannosaurus Hives” later that year, and it was nothing short of spectacular. The album exceeded my already lofty expectations, delivering a tight 30-plus minutes of unadulterated rock goodness. From the explosive beginning of “Abra Cadaver” to the final notes of “Antidote,” it was an unrelenting barrage of musical brilliance. The band seemed to have cracked the code for crafting infectious and clever rock anthems, and I was utterly hooked.
My dedication to The Hives carried on for years, culminating in a seminal moment in 2012 when I witnessed their electrifying performance at Coachella. Despite being relegated to the back of a massive crowd, their infectious energy radiated through the venue, leaving an indelible mark on me.
However, the pace of The Hives’ musical output began to decelerate due to Dr. Matt Destruction’s departure from the band for health reasons. They only sporadically released singles and made occasional festival appearances.
But then, a revelation occurred earlier this year. The band officially confirmed the release of their long-awaited sixth studio album, “The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons,” slated for August 11, 2023, accompanied by an extensive global tour spanning Europe and America, concluding in 2024. Needless to say, I was ecstatic.
Taking the stage before The Hives was the formidable Kate Clover, an artist I’ve admired for years. Her punk attitude, unique aesthetic, and gritty sound always struck a chord with me. The last time I witnessed her live was over five years ago, and I had been eagerly anticipating her return.
My anticipation reached its zenith with the release of her 2022 album, “Bleed Your Heart Out.” It’s a solid piece of work that any punk aficionado would appreciate. Like the headliners, Kate possesses the ability to translate the intensity of her recorded music into a raw, riot grrrl-inspired live performance.
Kate’s set was every bit as mesmerizing as I had imagined. While some in the audience might not have recognized her, I’m confident she won over a slew of new fans that night. Her commanding presence and music have the power to convert even the uninitiated. I dare say that a breakout moment awaits her, possibly through a well-placed sync in a popular TV series or film, or even a cross-over hit.
By the time The Hives took the stage, the audience was primed and ready to let loose.
Let me make one thing abundantly clear: The Hives’ live show is an undeniable force to be reckoned with. Despite the band’s frequent demands for audience participation, it was evident that the crowd was already fully invested. Pelle Almqvist, The Hives’ frontman, epitomized the essence of a showman. Whether he was reaching out to clasp hands with fans, singing into the faces of those lucky enough to be at the front, or soaring through the air with high kicks, he embodied all the trademarks of a true entertainer. His dry humor was in full display as well, as he quipped, “I’m just preparing you for a soft landing because I know when I stop playing, you’re going to feel an intense sadness inside.”
Pelle was keen on fostering early engagement, urging the crowd to stow away their smartphones – a request largely adhered to. He joked that he had heard “bad thing” about Los Angeles, but the audience responded in kind, for the most part, and fully immersed themselves in the sonic onslaught.
What struck me most was Pelle’s undeniable charisma and showmanship. From jumping into the crowd to be surfed to the back of the room, and leaping into the air from a toppled amp, to keeping the crowd and engaged and in good spirits throughout the entirety of the performance, and aspiring rock and roller should attend a show featuring The Hives, as Pelle gives a rock and roll masterclass on how to do as it should be done. I also noticed how he really wanted everyone in the room to feel included on this celebration of sound. Though it may just be a inconsequential tidbit, Pelle, repeatedly addressing the crowd as “Ladies and gentlemen and everybody else” really left a strong impression on me.
Even when faced with the potential for a show to veer off track – a brief altercation between security and an unruly fan momentarily halted proceedings – Pelle exhibited his mastery of crowd control. He declared, “I will now hypnotize you so you forget the last minute and a half didn’t happen,” initiating a countdown from 10 and exclaiming, “Snap! You’re back in the room!” The showmanship never wavered for a second, as the quintet continued to unleash controlled chaos on the venue floor.
When the band returned for an encore, Pelle affectionately introduced each member with their performance names: Nicholaus Arson on lead guitar, Vigilante Carlstroem on rhythm guitar, Dr. Matt Destruction on bass, Chris Dangerous on drums, and himself, Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, as the frontman. Pelle then added, “I have been, I am, and I will always be YOUR rock n roll lead singer.” The Hives will forever remain OUR rock n roll band, catering to “Ladies and gentlemen and everybody else.”