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Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday: Alkaline Trio Plays Third S.F. Show in a Month; Remains Compulsive Viewing

Posted By on Mon, Jul 18, 2011 at 7:36 AM

Alkaline Trio at Bottom of the Hill Sunday night. - BRI DELIBERTIS
  • Bri DeLibertis
  • Alkaline Trio at Bottom of the Hill Sunday night.
Alkaline Trio
July 17, 2011
@ Bottom of the Hill

Better than: Sitting at home and reminiscing about how great music was ten years ago.

Back in 2003, Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba did a last-minute acoustic set in the back room of SOMA's Cat Club. There was almost no publicity and it was organized at the last minute (he lived in Berkeley) so it was an incredibly intimate set, heartfelt and full of passion. It was a good indication of where Skiba was at the time -- the performance was extremely honest, but the vocalist was prone to forgetting lyrics after one too many drinks -- something that genuinely endeared him to fans, but didn't give the best representation of what he was capable of as a performer.

Fast forward a couple of years, and with fifth album, Crimson, hitting the

shelves, Alkaline Trio had transformed into an extremely polished live prospect, dressed in suits, musically flawless -- and stiffer than any of their old fans really wanted.

  • Bri DeLibertis
Tonight -- shortly after the release of Damnesia, their eighth

full-length -- Skiba, bassist/ vocalist Dan Andriano, and drummer Derek Grant seem to have finally


a perfect balance: musically flawless (no lyrics forgotten this

evening either), but personally relaxed. They look happy and in their


They're not above getting goofy before their final song (joking about

not leaving the stage between the end of the set and the encore) and

Skiba merrily gives stage-diving tips when needed. They carry a

self-assured glow tonight -- like they've already proved

everything they had to prove and now they're just having fun -- and they

all look healthier than ever.

The joy they're clearly experiencing is infectious, too -- tonight's set

is one gigantic singalong from start to finish. The Trio may not be at

the very height of its popularity anymore, but everyone in the room

tonight feels privileged to see this band in a room this small (even

though it played here last month and Slim's last night), and for

good reason. The members of Alkaline Trio are still masters at what they do --

perfectly crafted melodic punk songs with often-sensitive subject

matter and a dark edge. No one -- seriously, no one -- does this better

than them.

  • Bri DeLibertis
From joyous opener "Mercy Me" through an absolutely stunning rendition

of "I Lied My Face Off" all the way to "Crawl" (the line "Never had a

drink that I didn't like/Got a taste of you, threw up all night"

remains a stroke of genius) and the always-magnificent "My Friend

Peter," there's little more that Alkaline Trio could give us

tonight (except, according to one loud audience member, an airing of


Along the way, "Goodbye Forever" is dedicated to recently-departed

Jackass star Ryan Dunn; "Old School Reasons" is dedicated to support

band -- and legends in their own right -- Smoking Popes; and "Cringe" is

dedicated to Lagwagon frontman Joey Cape. It all feels like a family


And it's testament to the band that no one leaves this show 'til the bitter (sweet) end. This is compulsive viewing -- not because of anything crazy happening

onstage, but simply because Alkaline Trio's body of work is so damn

impressive (and beloved) that it's impossible to turn away. They've played in the city three times in the last month -- but if this band came back next week, we'd still go see them again.

  • Bri DeLibertis

Mercy Me
In Vein
All on Black
Snake Oil Tanker
Another Innocent Girl
Goodbye Forever
Hating Every Minute
Old School Reasons
I Lied My Face Off
Calling All Skeletons
San Francisco
This Could Be Love
If You Had a Bad Time
You've Got So Far to Go
Blue in the Face
Olde English 800
I Held Her in My Arms
My Friend Peter


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