Concert Review of Alkaline Trio

On March 30, 2010, in Concert Reviews, by admin

Alkaline Trio

Stock Picture of Alkaline Trio

I had the opportunity to see the Alkaline Trio at the Palladium Ballroom, in Dallas, on March 27. This was a concert that my wife was to attend, as she adores this group after stumbling upon their work when buying a CD pot luck on a trip to the wine country a few years back.  The rental car had a CD player, and we stopped at the local Best Buy in Salsalido, CA. She knew nothing of the group, but the CD packaging looked interesting. Come to find out, she loves the biting, if not somewhat dark humor subjects in their lyrics. Alas, as the Baylor Basketball team advanced in the NCAA, she chose to follow that leaving me to attend on my own.

I like concerts at the Palladium.  The venue holds about 1000 when fully open, and it is all GA allowing you to get as close or far from the stage as you wish, depending upon your torpedo skills to navigate the front stage crazies. There is also a VIP area center and back from the stage for those that want to sit and have drink service. Tonight’s attendance was about 400. About what I expected since this group is not necessarily in the main stream…very little airplay.

Clearly, I single handedly increased the average age of this crowd by at least 2 years. Very young crowd.  I tend to look like a nark in these environments, so they usually give me ample room wherever I choose to stand. Given the youthfulness of this crowd, I chose to lay back a bit from the stage. While this crowd was very young, interestingly, the normal madness that is a ‘pit’ area in these concerts was not very aggressive.  I have seen, and been in the middle of much worse. A little body surfing was about it. What was more prevalent, and apparently tolerated at the venue, was full cups of beer tossed toward the stage.  Seems like a waste of a good $6 beer to me.

The opening act was Cursive. They are a 5 piece band that plays alternative rock, I think. After listening, I was not really sure what it was. Their chord progressions and song structure is quite difficult to describe. But at the end of the day, it was not very listenable music.  Along with the strange song structure were vocals that sounded off key the whole song.  Now I know they are professional enough to not be off key constantly, after all, they are not Ozzy…so this must be part of their act. If this is the case, I am not on board. I was not certain about the acceptance of this young audience either.  After all, it could be that this is a new musical direction the alternative rock could be taking for all I know. I do not think so.  Those who were drunk by sunset seemed to enjoy the group.  Most seemed indifferent.  I will say this is the first time I have ever seen a trumpet in a rock band…something they seem to try to brand them with. He inserted the trumpet during songs, sharing time with his keyboard duties.

Alkaline Trio came on about 10:10p.  This is a three piece band that puts out a lot of sound and energy into their show.  This was the second time I have seen them, the first as a headliner.  These guys have been around for a long while, starting in 1996 from McHenry, IL, about 30 miles from my home town.  They are considered a punk band, one of the many that came out of the Chicago area. I consider them more alternative rock as they tend to be much more melodic than punk. Of course, the punk roots show in the length of songs, each averaging about 2 ½ minutes each. As well, they are reviewed as a punk band. These guys put out a lot of sound for a three piece.  Their show is very energetic.  It starts at a charged level and stays this way throughout the show. These guys are yet another group who look like college buddies who formed a band, a la Breaking Benjamin and a lot of alternative bands.  Their interaction with the audience was fairly limited, which is good, as the show kept up a good pace throughout. This was also limited by the fact that the lead singer had to refer to his play list consistently between songs; something I consider to be significantly annoying.  That said, their play list contains twice the number of songs than those bands I normally see due to their short length…so I can give him a break. There are no lead guitar lines in this music. It is all straight up rock.  The audience acceptance was good, but I thought that this was a more controlled audience than I expected for this age group and what is basically supposed to be a punk band. Most of the audience was using this as a pre-party launching pad to go out to other venues or clubs, based upon overheard conversation…so maybe they were just pacing themselves. I was impressed, as usual, with the number of people who seemed to be devoted followers, as witnessed by singing along with every song.

They played until 11:00, at which time they exited the stage for encore.  The encore waiting time was flat out too long, a good 10 minutes. They came back and played 4 more songs, including “Private Eye” from a CD released in 2001. Clearly a crowd favorite. Must have had some airplay somewhere, or, all of these kids were from the Midwest where they had and continue to have a significant fan base. They ended the show around 11:35…5 minutes past the corporate closing time. Damn them. Corporate hates when that happens…I sure do miss the Bronco Bowl.

I encourage anyone who loves alt. rock and punk to go see Alkaline Trio. The caution is that you true punk fans have to know they are not punk in the purest form.  This was a great show, and I will return to see them again given the chance.  I further appreciated them as a headliner so they could play more of their music. The previous time I had seen them, they were part of a multi-band bill and allotted 45 minutes by corporate.  Go out and see them.  You alt. rock/punk fans will be glad you did.


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