“I see some new customers coming!” Hives singer Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, (or as he referred to himself at when introducing the members of the band, “‘the direct descendent of Julius Ceasar’, Pelle Almqvist”), yells when referring to new faces among the familiar Friday night at The Wiltern.
It’s no wonder why Spin magazine has voted them among the top 10 live acts in the world. There is so much energy that comes out of the quintet. It’s difficult to keep focus on any single member, especially the stage antics between Pelle and guitarist brother, Nicholaus “Arson” Almqvist. They shoot from one side of the stage to the other, provoking the audience, pulling faces, and climbing on top of the PA equipment. At one point towards the end of the show, Pelle asks “Would someone please tie my shoe” and we all wait for Sal, fortunate fan who happened to be right in front of Pelle when the shoe came undone, to tie the shoe.
Luckily for The Hives, their music is great—loud, fast, and played in the name of having a good time. It’s not just about showmanship, but also about the music. The audience was all smiles and cheers during songs, and more so during the banter that would come out of Pelle’s mouth, “There are plenty of magicians in town, but few wizards!” / “Do you mind if we continue to rock your ass to smithereens?”, the funniness of it all boosted by Pelle’s charming Swedish accent.
His love for playing Los Angeles is told in a story mid-show. About the time he told a fellow band The Hives were on a bill with of how the next stop was Los Angeles. An unnamed band member then started talking about how LA is full of stiff people who don’t dance, don’t sing, and so on, in which Pelle told us he replied “[that’s because] you’re band fucking sucks!” before kicking into the next song.
However, the highlight of the night came at the very last song of their encore “Tick Tick Boom” where halfway through the song, everything came to a freeze (literally, the band members all froze in their spots and held their poses for a good minute). Pelle then proceeded to get the people standing in the orchestra of The Wiltern to part either to the left of the right, leaving him with an empty runway to come down and join the audience (somewhere in there, of course there was a Moses parting of the Red Sea reference, with Pelle referring to himself as Moses). He then told everybody to sit down. I mean EVERYBODY. People in the balcony, the open floor, the orchestra, the security members… everyone had to take a seat. He then yelled, “shut up so I can concentrate!”, sang a few bars of “Tick Tick Boom” and signaled for everybody to stand up as he ran towards the stage, jumped back up, and finished the song.
We all left the venue feeling elated for what we just witnessed. Too much fun on a Friday night. Hopefully you shared the night with a group of friends, and even if you were alone, it didn’t matter. Consider these words your warning, next time The Hives are in town, you’d do yourself good checking them out.