April 23, 2012


Best Set of Coachella: The Hives' Black Tie Punk Party

Shannon Hall
Shannon Hall

The Hives' garage-punk party started promptly at 6 P.M. on Sunday afternoon on the main Coachella Stage. The attire? Black tie, naturally. These are some classy Swedes, after all. The quintet sported matching black suits with long tails, black ties and top hats. It's smart-alec fun from a band that never gets comfortable, that never stops trying to win over new fans and reassure their existing ones.

VIDEO: The Hives Talk 'Lex Hives' at Coachella

Singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist must've written some new banter this week, because he had a fresh bag of jokes for Coachella Weekend 2: "We meet again! We will not take it easy on you, Coachella. We came to prove what Hollywood can't prove -- that the sequel is always better than the first!"

It's hard to imagine last week's Hives set, or really any other set over both weekends, topping this. "Before this show is over we will burst into flames," the frontman smirked. It seemed like less of a joke and more of a warning. 

On older hits like "Main Offender" and "Hate to Say I Told You So" the Hives played fast and tight, but sounded gritty and fun. Almqvist was part Mick Jagger, part James Brown; he's one of the few remaining showmen in rock n' roll. There wasn't a dull moment in their show, and it's all thanks to his unstoppable flair. 

Between songs he had the crowd in stitches. "We have a new album coming. I'll tell you all about it, but first I'm gonna have me some beer." (He never did actually tell us about it). He also compared the band-audience relationship to baked goods: "This pastry is done. We gonna kick you out of the oven, put you on the window sill and then eat you. We will eat you alive, Coachella."

This zinger had me particularly busted up: "How do you like the next song? Do you love it?" This came before the song even started. But he was right: "Walk Idiot Walk" was explosive, charging, sassy. What's not to love?

"I love you guys. Some of these bands say they love you, but they don't give a shit about you," he explained. He instructed Coachella-goers to applaud their neighbor, and scream "while I drink some water, please." Sure. Why not?

"Do you love my material? Can you feel my material inside you?" Ha! He then tested the golden rule for a Hives show:  no silence. There was certainly a lot to cheer for, like their rendition of the new single "Go Right Ahead," a hyper-poppy rocker similar to ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down."

They saved the best for last, though. A little fan participation is always fun, and during the breakdown of "Tick Tick Boom," Almqvist instructed us to sit down, then lay down, then jump up and freak out as the Hives exploded all over Coachella.