Friday Night: Alkaline Trio at House of Blues
"I don't deserve this!" Matt Skiba shouted, his veins pushing against his neck as he strained his voice, the crowd chanting along, nearly drowning out his band, Alkaline Trio. "No, I don't deserve this!"
Donning a pink cowboy hat and pink converse to match his pink guitar, offsetting his otherwise black garb, Skiba ended Alkaline Trio's 19-song set at House of Blues Friday night with the first song he ever wrote.
Though "'97" was written just after Skiba was caught with marijuana and subsequently placed on probation for 18 months, it seemed to have a different meaning Friday night. As he and his fans screamed at the top of their lungs, it felt as though Skiba was saying he doesn't deserve this. This type of reverence; this kind of following; this crowd of fans.
But ask any Alkaline Trio fan, and they'll all tell you the same thing: He does.
On tour in support of the band's ninth studio album, My Shame Is True, Skiba has said time and time again that he never expected his misfit music to accomplish as much as it has, adding that he can't please everyone with it and that he plans to continue writing emotive music for anyone willing to listen. And that attitude has proven to be beneficial, especially since Shame is such an honest record.
Eight of the 12 songs on the album are about the front man's ex-girlfriend and, in a recent interview with Billboard magazine, Skiba said he wrote and recorded them as if no one, except her, would ever hear them.
And even with such a morose setting, Alkaline Trio found a way to make it fun, as they have for more than 15 years.
Beer was both consumed and thrown everywhere, and a few overzealous fans were dragged out of the venue. One girl threw her bra onstage, and bassist Dan Andriano told her, "Thanks for the support," before throwing it back into the crowd, where it was tossed around like a volleyball at a music festival. Halfway through the band's set, Skiba stepped up to the edge of the stage and held out his hand, beckoning a young woman in the center of the crowd to hand him the vinyl album she had just bought.
"You don't want to hold onto that all night," he said before placing it on top of one of the amps. "But don't worry, I'll give it back."
And at the end of the show, he signed it before returning it.
Though a few notable tracks were missing from Friday night's show -- "Bleeder," "Time to Waste," "Clavicle" and "Radio," to name a few -- Alkaline Trio dug deep into their catalog, performing both well- and lesser-known hits, peppering in new material along the way, and they even performed a chorus of The Gaslight Anthem's "The '59 Sound." It seemed that everyone got exactly what they came for.
After "'97" ended, just before he walked off stage, Skiba approached the microphone one last time.
"The stars at night are big and bright," he sang, as the crowd clapped four times in response. "Deep in the heart of Texas."