For a great segment of Generation Y, Alkaline Trio is the sound of break-ups, make-ups and will forever be the torchbearers of the romantic fuck-up. Few recent bands have been better able to intimate the fury of a messy youthful separation. It's simple and to the point, forgoing vaguery for the same vengeful direct venom you would have found in a Livejournal post circa 2000 or inside someone's hidden book of personal prose. There's a reason that Warehouse Live was packed on Friday night, and why the smoking section out front was sprinkled with the occasional "heart and skull" tattoo that most AK3 devotees sport on their skin. If Juggalos celebrate ugly, then Trio kids celebrate heartbreak and wretched exes with whiskey and cigarettes instead of Faygo. AK3 hit town Friday night behind this February's new This Addiction, an album that saw the band returning to their roots after a handful of albums spent spinning their wheels in major-label land. Back were the grand web-like songs damning cheap girls with sly lines, instead of the big-budget poppy goth-punk that ruled their output from 2003 till 2008. OK, the gothy still stayed, but has just been dialed down. Remember, these guys and AFI were to be the mid-'00s great alt-punk hopes. Things didn't exactly go according to plan.
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Opening with the title track of Addiction, the band ran through a healthy mix of old and new, reeling in the fans who just picked up the baton during the past five-year major-label daze while also riveting the oldsters weaned on 2001's From Here To Infirmary and the band's previous Asian Man Records output. Most songs were met with a full-room sing-along, with fans mouthing the words or full-on singing with lungs bared like some drunken nostalgic choir. Aftermath caught himself doing plenty of the latter during "Mr. Chainsaw" and "Fuck You Aurora," which came naturally after spending years in suburban garageland handling scratched copies of Maybe I'll Catch Fire. You have to remember that AK3 came of age at a time when emo kids were still listening intently to lyrics for marching orders, or at least moping pointers. There may not be many bands in the future that command such a captive crowd from this genre for the next generation of sad, bitter punk rockers. There is just a little something demented, yet charming, about 500 people singing "I wanna wake up naked next to you, kissing the curve in your clavicle" while standing together in pure reverence. The band closed out their encore with "Radio," which, out of all AK3's songs, perfectly encapsulates the mood and tone of the band. It's their Cliff's Notes and one of the songs that younger bands use as a Rosetta Stone to create their own sub-par Trio rips. Somehow revisiting AK3 either live or on record, depending on whether they rubbed you the right way at the wrong time the first time around, reminds you of your lowest depths while also reminding you that - "Surprise!" - you can actually survive romantic trauma.