In a week full of color specific events, from "Les Bleus," the French National Team and
1998 World Cup Champions, kicking off the defense of their title tomorrow against Senegal
to the red and white peppermint-striped combo that is the White Stripes playing two
shows in San Francisco next week, the color festivities were initiated by the black-and-white color coordination that is The Hives. Their show at Slim's had been one of the
most talked about gigs of the year and the turnout showed that very fact. An unseasonably
warm day in the Bay Area had left all interiors virtually hotboxed and added the heat of the
most packed Slim's I had ever seen, a crowd that included all four members of The Donnas and AOL/Time Warner head honcho Steve Case. This only meant one thing. Sweating. No matter, though, the
Hives would be worth it.
Opening act Mooney Suzuki weren't much to write home about, with their
regurgitated punk/garage nonsense. Might have well been called Mickey Rooney
Suzuki for all they mattered. Enough said.
By the time that Sweden's finest garage/punk outfit-that-isn't-called International Noise
Consipiracy hit the stage, it was plenty hot inside. But it would just get hotter. With an
American flag as a backdrop and a Vegas-style bulb-lit The Hives sign hanging in
the middle, I didn't know whether to expect Wayne Newton or Bruce
Springsteen covers. Luckily, we received neither. Just some energy-packed garage and
punk, 2002 style. Frontman "Howlin'" Pelle Almquist, who seemed to be
channeling a young Mick Jagger, engaged in endless, sometimes extended banter
with the amassed throng between every song. He informed us of many things, such as the fact that is
was his birthday, to which he solicited chants of "Happy Birthday." Almquist also
berated the audience, mentioning that he had been told that San Franciscans were a tough
crowd and would just sit there with their arms crossed. He directed everyone to leave their
"coolness at the door and just have a good time. I love you San Francisco, but fuck you!"
which of course received a roar of approval. All the banter was made that much more
interesting by Pelle's thick accent, which sometimes made deciphering a bit of an
experience. Resplendent in their trademark black shirts with white ties tucked in to them,
assembled with black pants and white shoes, the band ripped through many favorites,
including "Knock Knock," "Supply & Demand," the searing "Hate To Say I Told You So"
and the equally incendiary "Main Offender." During this latter song came the moment of
the evening. Halfway through the song, the band just froze, each member holding their
position for at least a minute, with the birthday boy stuck, fittingly, in a Jesus Christ pose.
Just as quickly as it had begun, the freeze ended, the band continuing through the song as if
nothing had happened. Genius. One final piece of discourse stuck with me. In discussing
the inherent stand-offish nature of SF show goers, Pelle said ,"You stand around,
arms crossed, doing nothing, but then 48 hours later you decide it was the best show you've
ever seen. It'll happen!" Was it the best show I've seen? I've got another 38 hours to