Dan Andriano never says anything nice about SLC, but that's just because he loves us the most. Photo: Matt Brunk
In a surprising twist of events on the “Nobody Plays Salt Lake” reality show, Alkaline Trio made this fan undyingly happy by deciding to rock SLC two times in the past four months. Their free show in March was a fantastic time, a nostalgic trip through old albums and songs that they probably haven’t played in years. After reviewing their album for the April issue (http://www.slugmag.com/articles/5499/Review-Alkaline-Trio.html), though, I was desperate to hear the new songs played live. Other than the obvious inclusion of “I Want To Be A Warhol,” there weren’t any in the free show, but I knew they’d be saving those for this tour and I had to make it to the second round. Conclusion? They were absolutely worth waiting three months to hear.
The opening band also played Salt Lake City recently, a trio of incredibly talented fellows performing under the name Off With Their Heads. I caught them at Burt’s Tiki Lounge that night and knew that they’d be kicking ass again even if they weren’t headlining this time. I missed half of the first song, but I made it inside just in time to catch the last half and shoot the next couple songs. I love singer Ryan Young’s gruff voice and his lyrical cynicism, a disgruntled contrast to the normal music that I tend to gravitate toward, and it’s a satisfying echo of the realities of frustrating adult life. I recommend catching them every time they make it to the city, especially if they play another dive bar circuit. They played just as well this time, no nonsense and no bullshit banter, just music. It’s a little bit brisk and unusual, but that just seems to be their style, and that’s fine by me. Grab a copy of their new album “Home”—you won’t regret it.
Pulling myself away from my between-set beer, ready to rock and roll, I trudged through the crowd to take my place in the photo pit and prepare for the next band. I’ve never gotten the chance to see Bayside live, despite holding their self-titled album as one of my favorite albums of all time. Unfortunately, it was not to be, as the bouncers had the responsibility of informing all the photographers that they weren’t allowed into the pit for Bayside’s set. Since, apparently, Bayside don’t need any more publicity, allow me to oblige: Bayside played music.
Other than the free show in March, I hadn’t actually seen Alkaline Trio play, but after that first gig, I had an idea of what to expect: lots of banter, lots of good music, obviously, and lots of crazy Skiba faces. I was right. Opening with my new favorite Alkaline Trio song, “She Lied To The FBI,” it was pretty hard to take photos while bobbing my head and singing along that freaking hard. I called it when I said they’d open with it, though, and I bet that song is going to be their opener for awhile. It’s so damn, ridiculously catchy, showcasing all of the tricks these fellows have learned and refined over the years. Oh man, it scratches the spot so good.
One thing immediately obvious is the chemistry between dual-vocalists Matt Skiba on guitar and Dan Andriano on bass. These guys have been playing music together for most of their lives now, and the friendship between the two is hilarious and antagonistic as much as it is honest and heartfelt. They might well hate each other’s guts offstage, but they sure act like best friends standing on it. Telling stories, talking shit about each other—I think I could kinda get used to a podcast of just their banter. The night’s topics consisted of everything from how Matt Skiba looks cool smoking an e-cig onstage to how Dan Andriano never says anything nice about SLC, but how he really means how much he loves us it this time, to how Matt Skiba falls asleep to Insidious every night and lets it scare the shit out of his bandmates and crewmembers. Also admitting to being surprised that people actually showed up to their show after such a short break between the two, I’m glad that we proved them wrong and put on such a strong showing.
Continuing with the tunes, the fellows dedicated a sweet rendition of “Blue Carolina” to a couple they met celebrating their first anniversary, followed up by “Torture Doctor” and then “San Francisco.” I’m impressed with how far back they dig into their history for some of these songs, considering how deep their backlog is and how much they’ve got to take advantage of. Ending the better part of their set with “This Could Be Love,” changing “I’ve got some bad ideas involving you and me” to “I’ve got some bad ideas involving SLC,” the cheering crowd gave their all and sang along with every word. I can’t believe it’s actually been 10 years since Good Mourning came out, but we’ve been cheering along to that song for a decade, and it just never gets old. Love for fire, indeed. Taking a break before the encore, they didn’t make us wait for long before jumping back another few years with “Cringe” and then closing with the ever-disturbing “Radio.” “Shaking like a dog shitting razorblades” is a lyric that every Alkaline Trio fan should recognize, quite the visual image for such a sweet-sounding song. The perfect showmen, the catchiest songs, and the talent and skill to pack serious oomph that even my metal-loving and punk-hating girlfriend enjoyed dancing to, I’d say this was a pretty successful night. Come back soon, dudes!