Alkaline Trio House of Blues May 3, 2013
"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."
Personal Bias: I thought these guys would be a nostalgia act, but I'm glad I listened to their new album a few times through before the show. It's good.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Houston, we have a drinking problem."
Random Notebook Dump: As "Trucks & Trains" ended, Skiba informed fans that the band would be taking a short break. As the crowd let out a collective groan, he added, "Just for a second. Trust me, you'll like this."
Former Houston Press Assistant Music Editor Craig Hlavaty emerged from backstage and approached the microphone.
"My name's Craig, Craig Hlavaty... And I'm here today," he said, pulling a ring from his shirt pocket and half-dropping to a knee as his girlfriend Kristie walked out from backstage, her hand over her mouth.
The crowd squealed and screamed, as Craig seemed to be getting back up to pop the question into the mike. But Kristie quickly pulled her hand from her mouth and pointed toward the ground, as the audience erupted in cheers and a huge smile spread across Craig's face. She then dropped to her knees, and they hugged.
Call it a hunch, but I think she said yes.
Then Alkaline Trio dedicated "Blue Carolina" to the two of them. Thirty minutes beforehand, Craig had told me that it was her favorite song and that Alkaline Trio was her favorite band.
Well done, dude. I wish you two the very best.
Intro She Lied to the FBI Hell Yes! Mercy Me If We Never Go Inside Donner Party (All Night) I'm Only Here to Disappoint Olde English 800 San Francisco I Wanna' Be a Warhol Sadie Trucks & Trains Blue Carolina The Temptation of St. Anthony Mr. Chainsaw **"'59 Sound" Crawl Young Lovers This Could Be Love
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