Fans have been waiting for a new Alkaline Trio album for five years. It might not seem like a long time, but to diehard fans who have been anxiously watching as the members of their favorite band have dabbled with a singular focus in other projects for decades, seemingly at the expense of the main gig, this year is the long-awaited answer to an almost forgotten request. Now with almost no warning, we are getting a new record with accompanying the tour, and the lack of fanfare does not make the moment any less special.
The Atlanta stop on the Is This Thing Cursed? the tour featured supporting acts Ogikubo Station and together PANGEA. Neither band has a sound you would expect to pair up with the Trio, but their history and energy perfectly belonged and were a delightful addition to the night.
Ogikubo Station is comprised of duo Mike Park (founder of Asian Man Records and touchstone of the modern punk scene in America) and Maura Weaver of Mixtapes. Their music is a sweet and dreamy indie confection, and it sneaks up on you. Despite their individual past successes in larger settings, their focus here seems to be on being better humans and having a better human experience together. Space was made to tout their personal philosophy (which boils down to ‘be good to each other’, something I think we all can get behind), and time was taken to highlight the touring band and their friendships. It was a too short thirty minutes of wholesome atmosphere and good music, and then we were waiting for the next act.
Soon together PANGEA, an LA outfit with a trebled 60’s garage rock feel, graced the stage and rocked the faces of the audience members. This group’s music was not unfamiliar to everybody, and even those who could not sing along were enthusiastic with their dancing and cheering. Their set also felt short, and it was a disappointment when their time was over, but the time spent on the stage was not wasted. The lights and sounds were engaging, and they talked to the crowd as though we were all friends. It was humorous to hear that they were banned from playing at Disney (and as such would not be with the Trio on their next stop of the tour), and while the mystery was fun, I would like to know why! Either way, they will rejoin for the second leg starting in October and are a great addition to the lineup.
Finally, after much anticipation and only a little impatience on the part of the audience members, the three men we were waiting for walked out on stage. Unfortunately, drummer Derek Grant is taking time off to handle some health issues, but Jarrod Alexander is filling his seat for this tour. Alexander is long vetted by the industry and has worked with guitarist Matt Skiba in the past. The chemistry was easy and while Grant was missed and we all wish him an easy recovery, Alexander did a splendid job filling out the Trio and giving us the show we all came for. Skiba and bassist Dan Andriano seemed perfectly in their element, falling back into step after so long as though they’ve been together every day since the end of their last tour. We all know this to not be the case, as both men are fond of their side projects, to the equal delight and anxiety of those die-hard fans mentioned at the open of this article. Once Skiba was invited to a permanent position with Blink 182 fans were all but convinced we would never see a new Alkaline Trio album again, let alone a tour. Thankfully this is not the case, and the Trio has crafted another killer album, a perfect evolution on their ever-changing but instantly recognizable sound. Better yet, Skiba and Andriano are synched and perfectly Alkaline Trio despite the time apart. The night was all about the music, with little filler between songs and zero banter, unlike with tours past. This might be a side-effect of time constraints: they have a long and loved discography with eight studio albums, and many more splits and b-sides throughout the years and they chose music from every era. At the time of the show, two songs from the new album had been released and everybody in the house was able to sing along to both of them. A failed stage dive attempt by an overly-eager concert-goer did prompt a mini-lesson on how to properly stage dive without harming yourself or others (remember kids, it’s up and out!) so be sure to get it right if you make it to a future gig. Unless you want to be admonished on stage, that is.
Alkaline Trio will be making a stop at Riot Fest in Chicago in September, and then starting the second leg of their tour in October with together PANGEA and California based Sharp Shock. Check out the full list of tour dates below.
Alkaline Trio Tour Dates
09/14-16 – Chicago, IL @ Riot Fest
10/04 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory *
10/05 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern *
10/06 – San Francisco, CA @ Warfield Theatre *
10/08 – Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom *
10/09 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox SoDo *
10/11 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex *
10/12 – Denver, CO @ Fillmore Auditorium *
10/14 – Las Vegas, NV @ Brooklyn Bowl *
10/15 – San Diego, CA @ House of Blues *
10/16 – Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theatre *
10/18 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst *
* = w/ together PANGEA