Review by Derek Neilsen | Photos by Jacki Vitetta
With the stage clock clearly visible from my stage left point of view, the lights dimmed at 10:00 pm on the dot, causing the audience to cheer uproariously. Two distinguishable silhouettes then walked across the stage and picked up their guitars (it’s not tough to differentiate Alkaline Trio Matt Skiba and Dan Andriano from their respective outlines) with the iconic heart skull logo on the backdrop. And right then the house music cuts, lights went up, and the band ripped into “We’ve Had Enough”, off of their 2003 LP Good Mourning, followed by “Armageddon” off of From Here and Infirmary. And with that a second banner dropped down behind the band featuring the creepy telephone cover art for Is This Thing Cursed? It’s the only record in Alkaline Trio’s catalog that begins with Andriano singing, with his weathered baritone voice singing intro to the title track sounding like hot chocolate on a cold day.
Good Mourning was the first Alkaline Trio record I ever bought, and contains my favorite Andriano cuts , so I was psyched how many songs they performed from that record. “Blue Carolina”, “100 Stories”, and “Every Thug Needs a Lady” are still bangers, and I was happy they made their way into the set. Skiba also had plenty of old cuts like “Clavicle” and “Cringe” and “She Took Him To The Lake.” Their set was primarily composed of old songs, with their slightly more recent hits like “Help Me” or “Calling All Skeletons” absent. I’m really surprised they didn’t play “San Francisco”, considering they relearned it for the Past Live series from earlier this year. They did however, play “Mercy Me”, so at least the audience could sing the lyrics “I could have walked back to San Francisco” to a grinning Skiba who was wearing a Chicago Cubs hat someone had thrown on stage.
I was saddened to see that Derek Grant was not behind the kit for this show, who I was unable to join the tour due to personal health reasons. Even though he wasn’t an original member of the band, I felt like Alkaline Trio’s iconic status was cemented when Grant joined the band, much like Jade Pudget in AFI or Travis Barker in Blink-182. No disrespect to replacement Jarrod Alexander obviously, who executed the songs perfectly.
At exactly 11:00pm, the band walked off stage after ending the first part of their set with “This Could Be Love.” The first and second songs in their encore were “My Friend Peter” and “War Brain” respectively, both deep cuts from the band’s catalog. “War Brain” is probably my favorite Trio song so of course I had to push my way to the front and sing along. And of course everyone pushed their way to the front when the Trio ended their set with “Radio”, so they could scream the illustrative refrain “shitting like a dog shitting razor blades.”