By Anita Stewart, Managing Editor
Photos by Chyrisse Tabone, Editor
Venue: Jannus Live, St. Petersburg, Florida on 10/18/2021
This past weekend ended with a bang by seeing rather unexpectedly a Facebook post by Jim Chambers of Jim Chambers Music Box, his music academy in Tampa, Florida. He hosts a series of events at the school called Chatterbox which has featured many notable and famous bands such The Struts. They are intimate gatherings on a recital stage complete with lighting and a plush couch for the band and are conducted like lively Q&A sessions–an informal press conference as it were. Locals, music journalists and photographers, bands just getting started and the students of course attend.
Rock at Night was there on Sunday afternoon when Chatterbox featured Swedish garage-punk mainstays, The Hives. It was a full house and a great, long interview with topics that ranged from the band’s black and white suits (the band described them as their uniforms), falling off the stage during performances, some of their influences, such as their favorite band (AC/DC), and the ups and downs of touring.
Flash forward to 26 hours later as we entered Jannus Live in downtown St. Petersburg to see the rockin’ Swedes live. Old fans were anticipating seeing the band which had not toured for awhile and has not put out a new studio album in over seven years. Others were there just because they were curious and I am sure all of them left as brand new fans!
The Mystery Lights from Brooklyn by way of Salinas, California opened the show and played a rousing warm-up set of garage rock with a bit of punk rock thrown in. They had just flown in the night before from Spain, having completed a short tour of Europe. They are already going places! We got to speak to a few of the members including front man and guitarist Michael. Engaging their fans at the merch table, the band was selling their vinyl (which sold like hotcakes) and those buying were lined up to get the album covers autographed.
For a little history, The Hives formed in the late 80’s when the members were teens and have five full-length studio albums so far. Spin Magazine has considered them to be in the TOP 8 of the best live bands, with front man Pelle in the TOP 50 list of front men. The nucleus of the band is the two Almqvist brothers, vocalist Howlin’ Pelle and his brother, lead guitarist Niklas aka Nicholaus Arson. The rest of the band is: Mikael Karlsson aka Vigilante Carlstroem (the quiet one) on backing vocals and rhythm guitar, Christian Grahn aka Chris Dangerous on the drums and Johan Gustafsson aka The Johan and Only on the bass.
The Hives took to the stage with a huge amount of applause and their set was raucous, insane, funny, and pure entertainment from beginning to end! The band members were decked out in their familiar white and black suits and were illuminated with a white spotlight. Everything about this band is pure class! Chris was totally bad-ass on the drums and with his driving beat, the band went through a 14-song set of Hives classics with an encore of “Tick Tick Boom,” my personal favorite song. All the music was loud, garage-punk, punk-rock and fans were screaming and singing along.
In between songs, Pelle engaged the audience with side-splitting banter and during the songs he showed off his unique talents with keeping the audience engaged so they literally became a part of the performance. He had all kinds of tricks up his sleeves when it came to conducting the call and response with the audience. Pelle frequently leapt the stage to the barricades, swinging the mic cable ala Roger Daltry, jumping from amplifiers, diving from the stage or barricades into the crowd and then running through the throngs of people. Pelle is the perfect showman. Two stagehands dressed as black ninjas assisted with the mic cord as he frequently jumped off the stage and walked through the crowd. The band’s structure and vibe remind me of another crazy-fun, double-brother rock team, Cage the Elephant with the showmanship of the lead singer, Matt Shultz (who has been known to climb scaffolding) and the guitar work of his brother, Brad Shultz. See Rock at Night’s show review of that band some years back headlining the Gasparilla Music Festival (Click HERE).
This was the opening night of a lengthy tour that will take The Hives through the US, back to Europe and another scheduled and contiguous short tour through the US in 2022. I am thinking that many more dates will be added to this tour eventually. For upcoming tour dates and ticket information, click HERE. Don’t miss this band!
Photo Gallery – Q & A Session
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