March 8, 2008
Back in my college days in Montreal, I discovered a Canadian fast food joint called Harvey's. The Harvey's burger is a wonderful melange of beef, cheese, bun, hot peppers, pickle, and onion. It's really quite good. This being Quebec, if you ate at Harvey's instead of getting your burgers to go (and it was never to go, because it was always fucking 50 below outside) you would share your dining space with assorted freaks, both mental and physical, and oftentimes both. 'ello Claude! How's your stump? I'd say. Ah, bonjour, c'est Henri avec l'harelip. Bien. Allo, Lucien, so sorry about your flesh-eating bacteria--it is, how you say, terrible, n'est-pas? Excusez-moi, Monsieur Heroin Addict, I need to use the bathroom. One day as I munched on my burger, I had a revelation: here I am in French-speaking Montreal, eating a hamburger--an American institution--and it's better than anything I've had in my own country. Hmm, I thought, as I twirled the waxed ends of my mustache, so it seems the pupil has overtaken the teacher. Interesting development.
I had the same revelation watching The Hives destroy the 9:30 Club last Saturday. We American dudes invented rock and roll, and yet we are relying on lesbians and foreigners to show us how it's done. How did we reach this point? I want to blame Kurt Cobain but I can't find a way to link it to him. I'm sure he's somehow responsible. Maybe Ben Gibbard? I don't know.
And not just foreigners, but Scandinavians, no less. I saw The Hives way back in 2002 in New York when they were touring in support of Veni Vidi Vicious. We complain about blog hype these days but back before that tour there was an adulatory article about the Hives in The New Yorker, which placed them above fellow newcomers the White Stripes and hometowners the Strokes. This was the typical New York-type controversy in that no one outside of the city knew of or gave a shit about the issue, but everyone was all discombobulated for a while. We needn't have worried--the Hives played the Bowery and burned the place down. Lead singer Pelle Almqvist laid it down for us, Hives-style: there's been a lot of talk about an article telling you what music you should like...you don't need an article--you LIKE the Hives. And we did!
It was a nice bit of symmetry because my friend Stutts came up for that 2002 show, and he replaced out-of-town Sacklunch on Saturday. Also in attendance was our other pal Ted. Later on that night, after a lot of drinking, Ted fell asleep on Potsy's couch. This is the maturity that is Rock Club: instead of drawing a dick and balls on his face with a Sharpie, we drew a dick and balls on a paper plate, and held it next to his face, and took a picture. That's called growth and gravitas, people. I also tried to draw a vagina but failed. We took a picture of that too.
But before all that nuttiness was the Hives show. If you haven't been you should go sometime. This band is tight, yo. Almqvist violates some cardinal rules of rock--no banter, and no asking for applause. But the banter is pretty amusing and the applause is definitely earned--the man never stops dancing and his trademark howl is the voice I'd choose for myself if I could genetically modify my larynx. The band also had a cool neon band sign hanging behind them--I took a photo with my cell phone but it didn't come out so great. It looked sort of like the Mrs. Field's Cookies logo, except it said H-I-V-E-S:
The Hives break into rarefied territory with a RC rating of 8.0.
(1) I know socialized medicine seems like a great idea, but before we rush into anything, we should all go to Montreal and have a look around. I'm all for it, but let's not do anything rash.
(2) The Donnas were absolutely terrible.
(3) I know it's not funny if you have to explain it, but "Swelvis"=Swedish Elvis=Pelle Almqvist
(4) There was a guy standing in front of Potsy and I wearing old-style green cotton sweatpants and a white sweatshirt. He looked like he was in his forties. He had a bushy red afro and nerd glasses. He knew every Hives song and was jumping around and singing along. After the show ended I pursued him and attempted to get a good picture of him with my cell phone, but, like the wind, he disappeared into the night.