Alkaline Trio Concert Review, Chicago

By Josh Kay – April 21, 2009, was a night to see a great Chicago rock band at a great Chicago rock venue. Alkaline Trio returned home to play two sold-out shows at the Metro.

Alkaline Trio is a Chicago band – in my mind, THE Chicago band. They took over the role ever since Smashing Pumpkins started selling out arenas and Billy Corgan began systematically kicking people out of the band. Originally formed in a Chicago suburb in 1996 and since relocated to California, the Alkaline Trio (or Alk3) represents the hard, dark punk that has influenced scores of other bands in Chicago, including Logan Square and Sickening In Stereo.

The opening band, Saves the Day, hails from New Jersey has put out a few good albums with Through Being Cool and Stay What You Are and its moderate hit, “At Your Funeral.” I was a big fan about five years ago, so I was pleased that they played mostly older songs. A distinguishing factor of Saves the Day is the vocals of lead singer Chris Conley – it’s very high-pitched that I’d assume turns off some listeners, but he also has great harmonies and very poetic lyrics. They closed their set with one of their newer songs, and while you have to give Conley kudos for trying, it just sounded like crap. If you’re not familiar with Saves the Day, I do encourage you to look up some of their older albums and give it a few listens. You may be impressed. It is a good example of Emo Punk before Dashboard Confessional ruined the Emo name.

trioAlkaline Trio, on the other hand, did not disappoint.

As always, they played a set full with old and new songs. While fans will always love older songs more, Alkaline Trio is one of the few bands that continues to crank out quality albums while maintaining their original sound, so they don’t alienate existing fans or confuse new ones. From “Calling All Skeletons” off their newest album and “Agony & Irony,” to older classics like “Cooking Wine,” each and every song had the crowd jumping and the pit slamming. These can be raucous shows – I managed to get a flying elbow to my eye, but nothing too dangerous and everyone seemed to have a good attitude about it all.

It’s a magical thing having a band like the Trio play to their hometown crowd in a small venue. Everyone knows the lyrics. There were a few times that the Trio didn’t even try to sing and just let the crowd do it for them.

But it wasn’t all familiar. The Trio busted into a short, heavy metal song where Dan Andriano barked into the microphone while Matt Skiba mostly just laughed. It was bizarre. The crowd – which had been busy moshing moments earlier – was suddenly confused. It was definitely a mosh worthy song, but no one knew what to make of it. That led toward the end of their set, where they returned in full force for a three-song encore capped off with the popular “Radio.”

Leaving the Metro was a scene mixed with pumped-up Trio fans and meandering Cubs fans from that night’s game. It’s great to be in Chicago.

Josh Kay was raised in the same south suburbs as Hairstyles of the Damned author Joe Meno, where on Friday nights the coffee shops turned into punk concerts and the high school Battle of the Bands was more popular than the homecoming football game.

You can find the full Alkaline Trio set list here.

And below is some video of the show, via skabadelic