In between bands, NOFX’s ‘Dinosaurs Will Die’ blasts through the Institute’s PA system. Written in 2000 it’s a punk rock anthem about playing music for music’s sake. Currently Alkaline Trio are about the same age that NOFX were then and still they are, as Fat Mike spat, “making records with more than one good song” but can they still rock and entertain in equal measure?
Openers Murderburgers play fist pumping arse kicking punk rock in the Anti-Flag vein. No doubt more people would be pogoing along if the crowd could understand anything the band were saying, their Scottish accents making between song banter incoherent. Due to a venue mix-up I only caught the last couple of songs but that was enough to regret my lack of prior planning. Riotous.
Bayside are the kind of band you know exist but would be unable to name a song by. Despite sounding like any other band from the mid-2000’s Victory Records roster they know how to win an audience over. Their songs are tuneful and played with sunny optimism at odds with their angsty content. Highlights include a piano-less cover of Elvis Costello’s ‘Oliver’s Army’ and numerous squeal-ly satisfying solos from guitarist Jack O’Shea. By the end there are smiles all round and a fair deal of the crowd converted to their cause.
Alkaline Trio take the stage dressed in trademark black, before wowing everyone with an impressive one-two punch of ‘This Could Be Love’ and B-side ‘Hell Yes’. Whereas most dark punk bands bands you could name (The Damned, The Birthday Party, Misfits) have a touch of showmanship about them, a visual flair, a sense of theatre. Alkaline Trio just rock out, and when your catalogue include venomous gems like ‘Private Eye’, ‘She Lied to the FBI’ and ‘Time to Waste’ there is no problem with that.
An advantage of the Trio versus other similar bands is their dual vocalists in the form of the manic wild-eyed Matt Skiba and the looming ghoul Dan Andriano. Both add subtly different personae to the songs they sing, unfortunately this dynamic isn’t all that appreciated tonight. Apart from a rousing ‘Every Thug Need A Lady’ Dan’s songs seem to fall flat on the audience, which is a shame, though they could have just waiting for ‘I Lied My Face Off’ or ‘Crawl’ which never come. Matt, on the other hand, has the crowd singing back every lyrically black couplet.
Before ripping into ‘Cringe’ Matt announces that the song is 19 years old, and as such so are the band. Out of the entire 90 minute set it is one of the two songs they play which was written before 2001’s ‘From Here to Infirmary’. Possibly the band are ashamed of their naivety on early releases are they literally cringe at the stupid kids that they had been. The closing song (fantasy suicide ballad ‘Radio’) ends by every one in the room screaming the words “I’ve got a big fat fucking bone to pick/with you my darling” in unison, and its beautiful. It just goes to show that, though you can’t teach old dogs new tricks the old ones are usually the best anyway.