The energy at The Wiltern on Friday night in Los Angeles was altogether magnetic as a large crowd amassed and anxiously awaited the performance of prodiguous Swedish rock band The Hives. Vivacious cheers erupted as the band’s backdrop descended revealing a giant image of lead singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist as a domineering puppet master. Clad in matching black and white tuxedos, the five musicians exploded onstage and kicked off the night with “Come On!”, the first track off The Hives’ fantastic new album Lex Hives. The band kept the excitement high with an upbeat rendition of “Try It Again”, then Almqvist let loose and tossed off his top hat during an electric version of “Take Back The Toys”.
Ever the perfect frontman, Almqvist delivered hilarious anecdotes in between songs, dazzling fans with his commanding Swedish accent. “1000 Answers” was the next song in the set, then Almqvist proclaimed, “Here’s how this next one starts” and coerced the audience into clapping loudly before launching into “Walk Idiot Walk”. During the song he swung the microphone around with swagger, sat on the kick drum, propelled himself off, then jumped down into the photo pit and sang to fans. When he returned to the stage, Almqvist admitted that the nasty rumors about him are factual. “It’s all true. I’m an a** hole. I’m a dick. It’s all true.”
Though Almqvist commanded the center of attention, the rest of the band was not to be ignored, as they moved, shook, jumped, and flat out rocked all over the stage. During “Main Offender” Almqvist was on his knees alternating between blowing kisses to the crowd and flipping the bird. After a punchy version of “My Time Is Coming” Almqvist casually asked the audience, “Do you mind if I take off some clothing?” Fans responded with wild applause and ear-piercing shrieks, encouraging the artist to remove his jacket. The band then played bellowing introduction leading into the catchy track “Die, All Right!”
“We can do whatever we want, we’re shooting straight for the stars!” Almqvist shouted prior to the start of “Wait A Minute”, but he was not impressed with the crowd’s mediocre clapping. “That’s not good enough,” he scolded and then started the song over, singing with even more vigor than before. The audacious frontman thanked opening act FIDLAR and dedicated “These Spectacles Reveal The Nostalgics” to the punk rock band. Almqvist high kicked, jumped, and danced his way through the entire song.
“We need your screams,” Almqvist announced invoking a new bout of raucous cheers. “I’m a rock and roll star. This has been my dream since I was a little boy. You people are my dream. But am I happy with that? No!” With that proclamation, The Hives broke into the popular tune “I Want More”, sending the crowd into an incredible frenzy. Afterward, Almqvist put his top hat back on then proceeded to perform the sprightly “Won’t Be Long”.
Almqvist took a moment to discuss how other bands think that Los Angeles fans aren't very fun. “Those people are a** holes,” he hollered. “I tell them, ‘Your band f****** sucks!’” The audience went wild. The band then performed “I Hate To Say I Told You So” and every man, woman, and child in the venue danced, girated, and sang along. “People say rock and roll is dead. Is rock and roll dead?” Almqvist asked, then proceeded to lead the crowd in chanting “rock music” over and over again, proving that rock and roll is certainly NOT dead. “I am a God!” the singer yelled just before the band played a rousing rendition of “Patrolling Days” to close out the set.
The Hives began their encore with “Go Right Ahead” and the crowd responded with ecstatic enthusiasm. The band brought out a local musician to help sing vocals on “Insane” and then ended the night for good with an absolutely awe-inspiring version of smash hit “Tick Tick Boom”. During the last song the band froze on stage and Almqvist stated “I am the king,” before comically introducing every member of the band. He made the entire audience sit down, or at least squat, then jumped down in the photo pit again to finish the performance.
From start to finish, The Hives put on an enchanting set, once again proving they are one of the best live rock bands in existence. Precise, polished, and completely on-point, The Hives never faltered for a moment onstage. Weaving smoothly from song to song, the band played a swell mix of old and new songs leaving the crowd elated. Sweaty from dancing and exhausted from screaming, fans excitedly chattered as they exited the venue about how incredible the show was and how it just might have been the best concert they’d ever seen. I see no reason to diasgree.