To celebrate their appearance at the first weekend of the 2012 Coachella Festival, The Hives dusted off their top hats and donned their tails for a special set on the KROQ Coachella House stage just outside the main concert grounds.
The Swedish band arrived in tuxedos and took the stage to play a short set of their irreverent, garage revival hits.
During a short press conference interview before the set, lead singer Pelle Almqvist explained why it’s been five years since the band released their last record – The Black and White Album.
“Five years is pretty fast considering it takes millions of years to make a diamond,” Almqvist quipped in his usual smartass style. “For gold, maybe you won’t find as much. You have to gather your gold to put on an album.”
The group toured for three years and then took another two to complete their upcoming album, Lex Hives. Almqvist credited the band’s uncompromising demands for extending the process of getting their album together. It seems fellow band member Nicholaus Arson, Vigilante Carlstroem, Dr. Matt Destruction and Chris Dangerous aren’t easy to please.
“It’s the five of us,” Almqvist said. “We’re all the pickiest. It’s horrible. It’s everybody. I guess we got better at it in the latter years, but it’s not really a forgiving environment to be in – making music with the Hives. Everything sucks. You record four hundred demos and you like two.”
As for that Saturday afternoon at the KROC Coachella House, Almqvist pouted, preened and kicked his way around the stage during the band’s new single, Go Right Ahead. The frontman demanded audience participation in dance, song and chanting, insisting with: “We didn’t come all the way to Coachella to not have a crowd dancing in front of us. Get down here.”
The band’s sound is unrelenting, playful and punky high energy – often sardonic, but not violent or bitter. While Almqvist is the proud, bouncy center of attention on most of the band’s song, the most entertaining sight on stage might be lead guitarist, Carlstroem. Squat, bearded and powerfully built, he looks more like an invading viking than a rock musician, and he he wields his guitar like a battle ax as though he was raiding the KROQ stage.
The set ended with Almqvist taunting – then diving – into the happy Coachella spinoff crowd. It really was the best of both worlds – to catch a top alternative band at a huge music festival without having to deal with the insane crowd within the actual festival grounds. So, note to self, if I hit Coachella again, I’ll look for these side stages exclusively.
Photo: Johnny Firecloud