After an extremely packed concert year in 2007, I decided to take it a bit slower as 2008 began. It was easy to hibernate through the month of January - you see, I live in Minneapolis and dressing up in 3 layers of clothing is just not worth the concert adventure sometimes. Alas, February came and my anticipation for a few tours grew to the point where I just gave up and braved the arctic nights.
First up was the Donnas / Hives tour. Now, I know what you are all thinking ... and, I'm sure you're rolling your eyes as I start discussing the chick rock band that is The Donnas. I admit that I sorta wrote them off after "Take It Off" was overplayed but they regained my interest when my favorite artist Butch Walker took on the role of producer for their album 'Gold Medal'. I was confident that something amazing would surface because - let's face it - everything Butch Walker touches turns all sparkly and incredible. I had seen The Donnas once before a few years ago and was not impressed. Literally, all of their songs blend together and end up sounding like one run-on sentence with some occasional shouting. The only reason I made an effort to see them again live was due to my appreciation for lead guitarist Allison Robertson. To make it short and to the point - she rocks! She is literally the female version of Slash. She plays with a pizazz and confidence that makes you wanna shake your head and steal her back to the 80s rocker days. Watching Allison perform gives me faith in female musicians again. For her performance alone, I will see The Donnas many more times.
Swedish rock band, The Hives have been on my radar for quite some time. The Hives have been described to me as the most highly rated live show around. Those are some big shoes to fill and I had some high expectations for this show. Also, SPIN magazine has touted lead singer, Howlin' Pelle Almqvist as one of the "50 Greatest Frontman Of All Time"! From the second this band walked onstage, it was apparent they are superstars. They come together with an "X factor" quality not many can pull off. Pelle Almqvist gives a stellar performance as he's never in the same spot onstage for more than 30 seconds. He hops around through the crowd, leaps onto balconies, climbs upon the speakers and monitors, and dances with the force of a thousand seizures. He is arrogant, brash, animated and appauling all at once. His brilliance as a frontman keeps the crowd thirsty for more insults and cocky clever one liners. His stories are filled with comedy and ego. It's shocking and awesome all at the same time. The music seems to be a fitting background soundtrack to Pelle's act. I'd be surprised if anyone left the club without a huge smile on their faces. "Tick Tick Boom" and "Try It Again" are definite standout tracks on the 'Black and White Album'.
The third show I'm jazzed about is Angels and Airwaves. In the ongoing debate of which Blink 182 spin-off is better (AvA or +44) ... I will definitely go on the record as saying Angels and Airwaves is my favorite. I saw them perform recently at the Myth nightclub in St. Paul. I've been to sold out shows there many times but, this one was different. This show was the most crowded I have literally ever seen that club! Concert goers sang every single song with volume and passion. In fact, most of the time, the crowd overpowered Tom DeLonge's vocals. Angels and Airwaves is inspiring. The musical product is unique, brave, and real. Tom is genuine in his performance and constantly shows his gratitude to the crowd between each song. I feel like he's grown up and maybe that's why I flock more towards AvA instead of the +44 side (which to me basically sounds exactly how you'd expect it to sound, like a Blink 182 spin-off). The newest album 'I-Empire' is now released and the song "Breathe" has been on repeat on my Ipod for weeks. I encourage you to listen to it as it's lyrically and musically a beautiful dream. Don't miss AvA playing warped tour this summer!
*By Jen Panczenko, who is eating Girl Scout cookies like they're going out of style.