Alkaline Trio, Strung Out, Broken 3 Ways: O2 Academy, Liverpool

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Alkaline Trio

The fans may have aged but the sentiment remains, Getintothis’ Zach Jones slips back into the 90s and the beginning of emo with Alkaline Trio’s recital of From Here to Infirmary.

Emo has always been a highly contested term.

Whether it is from its origins of emotional hardcore within bands such as Rites of Spring, Fugazi and Jawbreaker, to the new wave of pop-rock that over took the UK charts in the mid noughties. Alkaline Trio sat firmly in the middle, punk enough to appeal to the hardcore fans, pop enough to appeal to the kids. As the tides changed and trends came and went, Emo aged.

Where the fanbase may have once been fourteen year olds swathing into the academy like a black tide, it is in fact thirty year old dudes, slightly bearded who still cherish their 2001 album From Here from to Infirmary, played tonight in full.

…Infirmary came with a strange reaction critically, as it laid the foundations for the emo monoliths that would follow. It didn’t massively challenge the listener as their hardcore punk influences did, and ultimately laid itself out as a trashy, easy to digest, punk record.

The record only charted at 199 of 200 in the US top billboard, and it remains the Chicago trio’s melodic punk was definitely more of foundation than a centrepiece. Matt Skiba has been a busy man of late, whether it is filling in for the alienated Tom Delonge in Blink 182 or taking Alkaline Trio across the country with NOFX, Skiba is well and truly back on the radar.

So kick off a rare return form, first up are ska bandits Broken 3 Ways. Not totally out of place on the bill, but giving us something different to tonight’s overseas offering, their raucous energy makes them look more like a band of pirates than a band of anything else. The songs are simple but energetic, not really anything near deep, but upbeat, tuneful and fun.

Strung Out have a different sort of energy, the California skate punks come armed with a Star Wars intro. As the banner is illuminated, and Darth Vader’s theme rings out, the crowd are prepared for something ominous. What they get of course is stupid skate punk. Catchy, melodic skate punk ala Descendents and Pennywise. The energy and passion is there and even some bluesy licks make an appearance. Ultimately though the crowd seems ready for Alkaline Trio.

So as Matt Skiba and co set foot onstage it’s obvious who the main event really is. Playing From Here to Infirmary in full is not a truly original idea from the band, playing the debatedly most popular record in full seems to be flavour of the month of late with heavyweights Metallica, Linkin Park and Deftones leading the format. Sure they weren’t the first to, but they’re the names that come to mind, and it can seem as if bands are almost unsure of how to draw a crowd so offer this not-so-different setlist as a pull.

With that being said, it must be mind melting to play the same setlist every night, and never get to dig out gems from records that rarely get played. So tonight songs like Stupid Kid aren’t the big hit, but in fact Another Innocent Girl and Armageddon. Tonight does have a uniqueness to it, records are very much a snapshot of where a band was at during that time period.

For all Matt Skiba’s latest projects, tonight takes us back to the late 90s where hardcore had a new face, and crying over your Myspace relationship was all the rage.

Pictures by Getintothis’ Sakura Zilla

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