I love Alkaline Trio.
Alkaline Trio (ALK3, for short) have been a constant in my life for quite some time now. It has been so long, in fact, that I cannot recall the first time I ever listened to them. Matt Skiba (vocalist, guitarist), Dan Andriano (vocalist, bassist) and Derek Grant (drummer) write about everything – history, literature, pop culture, politics, love – to name a few. They have an infinite amount of material, and they utilize it well. This tour in particular was to promote their new album, Is This Thing Cursed?, which was released on August 31, 2018.
The show was at The Wiltern, in Los Angeles. The inside of the venue was reminiscent of my hometown venue, The Majestic Ventura Theater- with its tiered floor levels and mezzanine. The ceiling was gold and ornate, and the lobby was huge. The merch tables were spotted out in the lobby, next to the bar. A plethora of new merchandise was present, including a tour tee resembling the cover of the movieTheShining. A long line had begun to form by the time I arrived.
As I entered the venue and secured my spot on the floor, I was disappointed to find out that I had missed Sharp/Shock’s set. I had previously seen Sharp/Shock support The Interrupters, but was definitely looking forward to catching them again. Sharp/Shock, (consisting of Davey Warsop, Dan Smith and Korey Kingston) are a talented band with a collision of British and American punk influences. They are signed to the ALK3’s record label, Heart & Skull Records.
together PANGEA (alternative rock from Los Angeles) was the second band to take the stage. They were enjoyable, seemingly mellow in their presentation – that is, until they busted out a synthesizer. I had never listened to together PANGEA before that night, but they are definitely on my radar now.
As the crew started to set up for Alkaline Trio to take the stage, the crowd around me was beginning to get impatient. The iconic heartskull logo hung behind the drum kit, and right around 10 pm the lights dimmed. The audience began to cheer as Matt Skiba, Dan Andriano and Jarrod Alexander (Death by Stereo, Matt Skiba and the Sekrets; filling in for Derek Grant on this particular tour) came out on stage. The first thing that I noticed was that Skiba was holding one of the most beautiful guitars I had ever seen – a Fender custom shop “acid green” Jazzmaster.
Skiba and Andriano did not say much in between songs, but instead focused on churning out nineteen tunes from cherished records in their extensive catalogue.
Alkaline Trio opened with a fan favorite, Good Mourning’s “We’ve Had Enough”, followed by “Blue Carolina” (also off of Good Mourning). The opening songs got everyone pumped for what was to come.
“Armageddon” (From Here to Infirmary) was played next, to which I showed great excitement (being that From Here to Infirmaryis my favorite ALK3 album). After getting the audience warmed up, the Trio busted out “Blackbird”, their single from their most recent release Is This Thing Cursed?
I was surprised that ALK3 did not play more songs from their most recent record, but instead had a decent mixture of songs off of almost every album released.
ALK3 performed five more songs off of various records – “Mercy Me” (Crimson; an album based heavily on literature), “One Hundred Stories” (Good Mourning), “Cringe” (Goddamnit; written about Skiba’s former job as a bike messenger), “She Took Him to the Lake” (Maybe I’ll Catch Fire), and “Clavicle” (Goddamnit) – before giving the crowd another taste of Is This Thing Cursed?, with the title track.
Toward the middle of the set, the iconic heartskull logo banner was dropped to reveal a new banner – the cover art of Is This Thing Cursed?. Fans needn’t worry; the heartskull logo is still present, nestled in the middle of a bright red rotary telephone.
Alkaline Trio ripped right into “Sadie” (Crimson), “I want to be a Warhol” (My Shame is True), “Demon & Division” (Is This Thing Cursed?), “Time to Waste” (Crimson), “Crawl” (From Here to Infirmary), “I Found a Way” (Agony and Irony) and “Private Eye” (From Here to Infirmary).
Alkaline Trio closed the show with “This Could be Love”, off of 2003’s Good Mourning. The choice seemed fitting, recalling that they opened with a track off the same record. As I watched all the hands in the air, counting along with Skiba and Andriano as they sang - “Step One: slit my throat, Step Two: play in my blood…” - I felt a sense of camaraderie.
The Trio walked off stage, but the lights did not illuminate; I sensed an encore brewing. The crowd cheered for a few minutes until Skiba, Andriano and Alexander walked back to their spots on the stage.
The encore consisted of “My Friend Peter” (The Alkaline Trio), “Warbrain” (Remains) and finally, the ultimate fan-favorite “Radio” (Maybe I’ll Catch Fire). I was pleasantly surprised to hear “Warbrain”, since that is my favorite Alkaline Trio track, with lyrics such as, “I need that song, these trusty chords could pull me through.”
Although I have only seen Alkaline Trio live a handful of times, their music will have an everlasting impact on me. I had anticipated this show for months, and I was not disappointed. I love the macabre and romance that Alkaline Trio bring to the table, and just this sense of comfort that I feel when I listen to their songs. I look forward to seeing them again, and hopefully it is sooner than later.
When it seems so right, and it feels so right…man, it had to be right.– “She Took Him to the Lake”