The Hives Live @ The Sinclair, Cambridge MA [11-01-23]

The Hives Live @ The Sinclair, Cambridge MA [11-01-23]

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Thursday, 23 November 2023
LIVE MUSIC

Happy Thanksgiving!

We were still so naïve in 2002. The Hives had released their second album Veni Vidi Vicious, and it was getting some mainstream attention. Not sure why. Maybe it was riding the coattails of that garage sound a la the Strokes/White Stripes/Yeah Yeah Yeahs that was all the rage at the time. As documented in Lizzy Goodman’s excellent book Meet me in the Bathroom, and the less excellent documentary movie that followed it a decade later, there was a hunger for these loud, fast, bratty, snotty bands. But I talk about naivete, not only because I’d never used it in an article before, but because Veni Vidi Vicious was an independent release on Epitaph that then got rereleased on a major label. Sire couldn’t do the work themselves in growing the band so they had to jump on the bandwagon when they knew there was profit to be made. A tale as old as time. The band was accused of selling out, but let’s be honest, everyone made a ton of money here, including Epitaph. And that’s missing the point: Veni Vidi Vicious rocks no matter what label was behind it. Well, OK, I’m sure it wouldn’t have sounded as raw and gritty if Butch Vig produced it (Hi, Against Me!).

Anyway, I’ve been listening to the Hives for over twenty years now and seeing them live has always been on my bucket list. Are they way past their prime at this point? It doesn’t matter. A good album is a good album and a great live show is a great live show. So, why is this review so late? Because this show almost killed me.

But, of course, it was a good time. The Hives brought it even though they’re far from the spunky spring chickens of 20 years ago. The set was tight, the setlist was what it is was supposed be of a band promoting a new album (although more cuts from Veni Vidi Vicious were direly needed), and the night was a theater of pompous comedy. Some people were on board, while others were hating it.

I was on the balcony, in the back, with a huge smile on my face, and wondering why I felt so cold in my hoodie and jacket in a packed sweaty sold out show. Turns out those were the early stages of a fever. I managed to bike my way home but the next couple weeks involved an infection so bad that I had to be rolled into the emergency room where I was treated for low blood pressure and heart rate so bad that I almost died. All caused by a mysterious illness. During my sleepless nights and fever dreams, what music was pounding through my head like an endless rollercoaster? The Hives, of course! Countdown to Shutdown, Bogus Operandi, Main Offender, Tick Tick Tick Boom all made the setlist and all made their way into my head.

I’m glad I saw the Hives. I’m not glad I got sick. Should you see the Hives? Of course you should. Just be careful, OK? They might kill you.

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