93.3's Big Gig at Red Rocks, 9/16/12
Eric Gruneisen Howlin' Pelle Almqvist of the Hives at Red Rocks on Sunday. Slide show: 93.3's Big Gig at Red Rocks
93.3's THE BIG GIG @ RED ROCKS AMPHITHEATRE| 9/16/12
Future rock stars of America, when they're doing their homework by watching all the YouTube vids they can find of fabulous frontmen lathering up a crowd, should instead go catch a Hives show to see how it's done. Like a rock and roll pissing contest writ impossibly large, 93.3's Big Gig was a spectacle of guys with guitars attempting to out-posture one another. (Spoiler alert: the Hives won.) Headlined by L.A. indie sweethearts the Silversun Pickups and assisted by the Hives, the Wombats and 3OH!3, 93.3's Big Gig, the daylong outdoor bash at Red Rocks, sounded like a big last sendoff to summer 2012.
See also: Slide show: 93.3's Big Gig at Red Rocks
Eric Gruneisen The Wombats at Red Rocks on Sunday during Channel 93.3's Big Gig. Slide show: 93.3's Big Gig at Red Rocks
The Wombats, rumored to have just flown across the Atlantic to Denver just hours before the show, played to a smallish crowd in the mid-afternoon. With a catalog that spans just two albums, the guys pulled out most of everything they had -- snarky lyrics, disco beats, Gang of Four-like anthems and all. Singer/guitarist Matthew Murphy and his mates tried their damndest, despite the sleep deprivation and synth-heavy songs that seemed misplaced in the au naturale Front Range setting.
Eric Gruneisen The Hives at Channel 93.3's Big Gig Sunday at Red Rocks. Slide show: 93.3's Big Gig at Red Rocks
The Hives came next, and there was no mistaking them either -- seeing five dudes dressed impeccably in white-bowtied tuxedos (with tails! And tophats! And a backing percussionist dressed in a ninja costume!) tends to leave an impression, even on those who might otherwise be easily distracted. A communal "WTF?" vibe appeared to overtake the crowd. Between songs, frontman Howlin' Pelle Almqvist said, "I feel like we're getting to know each other really well."
The Hives play the kind of music that needs no prior association. Throughout the band's set, the group shamelessly borrowed from the gutpunching dummy-proof grooves of AC/DC, meshing four-on-the-floor beats with humorous turns of phrases in songs like "My Time is Coming" and "Tick Tick Boom." Oh, and it doesn't hurt that Almqvist is a handsome devil and enjoyed walking -- nay, prancing -- into the audience throughout the set.
Eric Gruneisen The Hives frontman Howlin' Pelle Almqvist at Channel 93.3's Big Gig Sunday at Red Rocks. Slide show: 93.3's Big Gig at Red Rocks
He also owned some of the best stage banter heard all summer. "It's very far from Sweden into your American hearts," Almqvist said at one point. At another, he deadpanned, "There are a lot of magicians here, but few wizards." Oh, and let's not forget when he asked all the fans for their Social Security numbers, their grandfathers' ages or closed with, "We've done some scientific testing on these rocks here, and this is as much height as the Hives can take.... We will always be the Hives!"