The Hives

It was so great to Sweden’s finest, The Hives, come to rock New York City....
The Hives : Live
The Hives : Live

New York is so infused with music that sometimes one can forget about the acts that haven’t played in a long while, that you need to see (again or for the first time). Particularly foreign acts, as America’s lovely visa system makes it hard for artists to even come in, let alone have a successful tour. But oh man, it was so great to Sweden’s finest, The Hives, come to rock Racket (QRO venue review) on Tuesday, May 16th.

“Due to a rift in the time space continuum, it’s been eleven years since The Hives last played New York City!” With those words, frontman par excellence Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist admitted to their far-too-long absence, and set about making it all right with their rock. The band was in town for a special NYC show as part of the announcement for their new record, also first in eleven years, “our soon to-be-award-winning” The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons, out August 11th. The group nicely mixed both songs from Randy, old classics, and more. Much more.

The Hives

The evening began with Death beginner “Bogus Operandi”, and The Hives know how to start a show or an album. Throughout, Almqvist was bounding around the stage, while those Hives tied down with instruments gave it their all from where they stood. Other notable new pieces included the killer kiss-off “Rigor Mortis Radio” and into-the-encore-break “Countdown to Shutdown”. But don’t worry, they also hit the “Hit after hit after hit” oldies, including early fire-lighter “Main Offender”, mid-set booms “Go Right Ahead” and “Hate to Say I Told You So”, and encore return explosions “Come On!” and “Tick Tick Boom”.


For more songs than you could count, Almqvist was in the crowd, from crowd-surfing to walking through to getting into VIP. The group’s ninja-clad roadies hard their work count out for them, trying to keep up with the singer and his mike cord. There was even a moment where one fan crowd-surfed onto stage, and instead of being immediately escorted off, Almqvist greeted her, she said it was her birthday, Almqvist got the crowd to sing her “Happy Birthday”, she hugged the ninja roadie, and stage-dived off the stage and back into the audience.

And Almqvist had many choice bon mots, “rift in the time-space continuum” onward. “We didn’t age one bit! We are wise old souls trapped in young sexy bodies.” He joked about needing to have pre-orders in order to get the album made, “The economy, man…” “The next little ditty is based on our favorite late nineties/early two-thousands genre – drum & bass…” He noted when they’d gotten to the part of the set where “I have no idea what I’m doing” – just three songs in, which he said was particularly great to have it happen so early. He noted all the awesome songs in their catalogue, “I just looked at the set list, and every single one from now on is a banger!” And when he saw that one suit jacket arm of his had been pushed up, but not the underlying shirt sleeve, he said, “Some fashion has happened to my arm,” telling the crowd they were “free to copy it – if you can pull it off…”

Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist

Those suits were in as fine form as the band, their trademark black-and-white style livened up with lightning bolt designs – and glowed in the dark, because The Hives are a band that glows in the dark. Of course, those jackets one-by-one came off as the group got sweatier & sweatier. Indeed, all Almqvist’s between-song banter might have also been a chance for them all to catch their breath, even/especially Almqvist, a break from jumping off bass drums and everything else.

And the crowd was likewise wild, in an absolutely packed Racket (it was tough for staff to keep the doors to the main stage floor closed, with fans bumping right up against them). Thankfully, they’ve announced a whole big tour for the fall, both Europe & America, and play the bigger Brooklyn Steel (QRO venue review) to start the North American leg on October 30th. Be there & be ready to rock!

The Hives

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