Hives, The: live at the Roxy 12/01/01 By Todd Taylor

Dec 17, 2001

To be honest, there were other bands on the bill, but I didn't like 'em. I didn't want to harsh my Hives afterglow, so I stood outside and pontificated about the resurgence of leather bras and zebra bodysuits on hard-run ladies walking the Sunset Strip. The Hives: it's refreshing to see a band that's so wired into what they're doing - rocking the fuck out - and have them do it so proficiently without coming off as too-cool rockstar professionals, or too sloppy, too drunk lifestyle-eclipsing-talent, no-fi rockers. They've got the energy - it's quickly wound and isn't like watching sterile musical surgery. The Hives are spazzy and tight, like a virgin, veteran cheerleader with secret kung fu moves in her pom poms. You know - it's rock'n'roll - it ain't all that hard to attempt (buy an instrument and hit it and start yelling), but it's so, so hard to get it right and make it stabbing and new and make you want to yell along and high kick shit from the walls. They make dirty songs with infected scalpels that fit in the body of work routed out by folks like Scared of Chaka, The Weird Lovemakers, Los Federales, and Chuck Berry.

So what makes 'em so good? Besides an innate understanding of hooks, melody, and when to fucking end a song, The Hives have a lead singer who sweats so much confidence and exudes so much disarming charm that he prompted the audience to "clap when I take a drink" in his Swedish-cum Mick Jagger accent. And the crowd went wild… while the guy took a long pull off a sports bottle in the middle of their frenetic set. Yeah, they're cocky. They deserve to be. Part of it is a show, but not with light machines and fog machines, but a show with human combustion and chemistry - jumping around, high drum flourishes, the lead singer goading the audience, and the entire band refusing at all costs to be a bunch of dudes staring at their (very white, matching) shoes. To end with an what seems to be a tangent; one of them looks like a Mexican bandito from a '50s movie, with a rape guy mustache, and I thought to myself, "Huh. Sweden: Meat balls. Vikings. Women's volley ball teams. Massages. Penis pumps." That now is amended to include portly, dark-skinned bassists who are in one of the best, underrated rock'n'roll bands on the planet right now. Get down. Get a rash. Get The Hives.