Alkaline Trio: Past Live Tour
The Social- Orlando, Florida
I remember the first time I heard Alkaline Trio vividly. I was driving in my car, freshly licensed up listening to a mix cd. This mix cd was volume one of Atticus: …Dragging the Lake, which I wish I still had to this day. It was the first of a series of compilations by the Atticus clothing line. The bands just happened to be chosen by Tom Delonge and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182. The first song on this compilation is “Jaked on Green Beers” by no other than Alkaline Trio. This was probably my first “punk rock” sample and the cd that got me into many of the bands I listened to through high school including Blink 182, The Used, Jimmy Eat World, Boxcar Racer, Sugarcult, New Found Glory, Finch, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Simple Plan & The Starting Line. I can’t say that I’m proud of all of the musical decisions I have made but at least its better than my elementary school days listening to the Backstreet Boys and bands that don’t really exist like 2GETHER & Proto Zoa from some Disney Channel movie. This compilation came out a little while after From Here To Infirmary was released which became my first Alkaline Trio album, making “Stupid Kid” my first favorite A3 song. To this day it is still my favorite A3 song. I was a stupid kid back then and it is instant nostalgia whenever I put it on. Although, I still feel like a stupid kid most of the time. I was not instantly a huge fan of the band at that point. I knew I loved a few songs from that album and “Jaked on Green Beers” but it took a little while before I broadened my Alkaline Trio horizons. See I got into Ska music big time in my early years of high school. It took meeting one of my best friends Nicole Miller before I began listening to other albums. I’ve been to 5-7 Alkaline Trio shows in my years (excuse my terrible memory), not including the Past Live shows. It’s really not much compared to some bands I’ve seen multiple times but I finally feel like a true fan almost 14 years later. I can finally scream my way through all of their albums and feel like I’m worthy of a heart skull tattoo. Or maybe some other Heather Gabel A3 art.
Scream through all of their albums is exactly what I did last week, as well as considered more and more about getting an A3 tattoo. The Past Live tour came close to my town, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Past Live is Alkaline Trio playing 8 albums (93 songs) in 4 nights. The first night playing their first and eighth albums, the next night playing their second and seventh, followed by the third and sixth albums and finishing up with the fourth and fifth on the last night. I’ll lay it out for you:
Tuesday 5/19: My Shame is True & Goddamnit (Encore: “My Friend Peter”)
Dikembe opened up for Alkaline Trio on Tuesday night. They’re a little emo band from Gainesville that puts on a great show. I spent most of their set getting drinks & making sure I snagged myself a Past Live Orlando poster which happens to be the coolest one I’ve seen yet. Full of color and with the little devilish goat girl sporting some Mickey ears.
As Alkaline Trio took the stage we were already three drinks in and as excited as ever. We stood on the upper level of the venue which was only about 8 feet away from the stage because The Social is small as fuck. A few songs into My Shame is True I decided I couldn’t handle having to dodge heads to see the stage. I grabbed my friend Nicole and headed to the floor, in shock that there was actually breathing room a foot away from Dan’s feet. My Shame is True is the latest album A3 has released and an album written for Skiba’s ex in an attempt to win her back, so the mood wasn’t exactly ecstatic from the crowd or the band. Nicole and I were still excited as hell, head banging and jumping up and down with only a few others around us.
As soon as the first chord of “Cringe” was played a stampede of fans pushed through the crowd and made their way to the floor, instantly starting a mosh pit. It finally felt like the Alkaline Trio show I was excited for. Goddamit is my favorite Alkaline Trio album and I did nothing to hide it, Nicole and I went nuts. I imagine this is the bands second least favorite album to play live after My Shame is True, which makes me wonder if they decided to get those two out-of-the-way first on purpose.
As the boys left the stage, Nicole and I stayed close in hopes to get a pick or a set list. Drunken Nicole decided after a few minutes of waiting and staring up at a mic stand full of Dans pics, that she was going to snag one herself. She grabs the stand, lowers the end down to her face and grabs a pick seconds before a security guard runs up and shouts “No! Don’t do that! and snatches the pick from her hand. She tells the security guard that she’s one of their biggest fans and has them tattooed on her body and some how that convinces him to give the pick back to her. Success! Double success that we weren’t kicked out for the rest of the shows.
After getting some water from the 7/11 around the corner we head back to the car. We find Derek and a throng of ladies surrounding him behind the venue. This was the first time I have ever met Derek and I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly and sociable he is. We heard stories of his years before he joined the band, stories of how he was the bands archivist before he was the band’s drummer. He told us how he has tons of VHS tapes with videos of their shows from the very beginning. He signs our wooden box set that Adam bought especially for this Past Live Tour so that we could hopefully display it over our record collection with signatures from each band member on it. Shortly after that Dan walks out, looking like he just wants nothing more than to escape the crowd and madness before him. We get lucky and are one of the few to get him to sign something before he finally says he has to go and leaves the rest of the crowd behind. The first night of Past Live is over and our box is already two-thirds of the way finished. Now if only Skiba would show his beautiful man face. We wait around for another hour or so before the roadie tells us he has already left and takes The Big Ripper inside.
Wednesday 5/20: This Addiction & Maybe I’ll Catch Fire (Encore: “Hell Yes”)
We start our second day in Orlando by visiting Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure before the show. It’s hot as hell in Florida right now so it only took a few hours of sun and waiting in lines before we were defeated and headed back to the hotel to get ready for the second night of Past Live. We head to the venue a little earlier than the night before because Shannon and I are big fans of the opening band, You Blew It! As we walk around the venue we notice some familiar faces from the night before. We make new friends with some hardcore fan girls and share our Alkaline Trio stories with each other. We meet a girl from Glasgow, Scotland who flew to Orlando by herself just to attend these shows, to meet the band and to find friends that share her obsession and make her feel less like a freak. We meet a couple more ladies who tell us about how they met Matt before the show Tuesday and gave him a Fright-Rags shirt that he wore on stage the first two nights. They show us pictures of his excitement from receiving the shirt and adorable pictures of them posing with him. A little while later we see Skiba dart past us on his bike aka The Big Ripper and hear a kid near by yell out “SKKKIIIBBBAAAA!!” We quickly run to the back of the venue but are too nervous to bother him so we make our way into the venue.
You Blew It hits the stage shortly after we get inside the venue. The first time I saw them was in a tiny little record store in Tampa and the energy of the crowd and the band was so electrifying that I instantly became a fan. The bassist crowd surfed over the crowd of only 30 to 40 people while playing at the same time. This was not the case this night at The Social opening for Alkaline Trio. Opening bands were not announced until after the shows were completely sold out. I think Shannon and I were the only ones who gave any fucks about this band. We screamed the songs, jumped around and eventually got called out by the bassist who used us as an example of how everyone else should be reacting. They were playing in their home town and you could have thought they were playing in a different country.
Finally Alkaline Trio hits the stage on night two with This Addiction and we get a close spot a foot away from Skiba. I can see a couple of our new friends right up against the stage. The little Scottish girl in what ends up becoming her spot every night right at Skibas feet where the set lists are tapped to the stage. The night starts a lot like the last night, not many people on the floor, not much excitement in the air. There was a little more excitement than the night before but I begin to realize that Skiba looks like he wants to be anywhere but here. Maybe he wasn’t a fan of the albums they played that night, maybe he was exhausted from having to learn 8 albums to play 4 nights in a row over and over again. The energy was not there and that slowly started to disappoint me. Derek on the other hand had the energy of all three of them put together. Constantly smiling, singing along and thoroughly enjoying himself and you could see it.
It happens just as it did the night before. Maybe I’ll Catch Fire starts and everyone stampedes to the lower level and starts a mosh pit. Shit gets crazy. I was pushed around the most this night but this was because of my choice of where to stand which happened to be right in front of the mosh pit. The energy of the crowd during Maybe I’ll Catch Fire was at the top of its game. Crowd surfers, stage divers and drunken finger pointers everywhere. At one point I got pushed almost completely on the stage. During this time I notice that the black box a foot in front of Skiba that I was being pushed on to was a monitor showing the lyrics of whatever song was currently playing. The most chaos happened during Radio, the song I believe is the most well-known of Alkaline Trios songs because of the famous line “shaking like a god shitting razor blades.” This was the song I was pushed atop the lyric monitor. It confused me at first because I know there’s no way that Skiba forgets the words to this song with how much he must plays it. They’ve played it as an encore song more than half of the times I’ve seen them live. As I regained my stance I quickly realized that it must show the lyrics to all of their songs. There were songs they played these four nights that I’ve never seen them play before.
After “Hell Yes” is played I stick around the stage for a chance to get my own pick. I wanted a Skiba pick and I wasn’t going anywhere until I got one. A security guard walks up trying to get everyone to leave the stage and I nicely ask him to grab me a pick. I point to the mic stand and to the pic laying on the stage a few feet away from us. He stretched his arm to the pick on the stage and hands it over to me. Hooray! Shannon and I then make our way to the merch table in the back to say hi to the You Blew It! guys. They’ve always been really nice since the first time we met them so we wanted to catch up and take a selfie with Party Matt, the drummer with the most prominent,goofy mustache who wears the same Andrew W.K. shirt every time he plays a show. We then make our way to the bar to meet up with Adam and Nicole. One of our friends from Orlando just happened to be working the bar that night so we stuck around a little longer to talk to her, take a shot and plan for a day at our hotel tomorrow before the show.
We then make our way outside where Derek is standing in the same place as the night before chatting up the fans and signing whatever he can. He chats with the Scottish girl and promises her that he will personally bring Skiba down to meet her. This is a promise she’s heard before when the roadie said he would take her to the dressing room the night before but never followed through. Derek came back and said that Matt had already left for the night. Dan doesn’t make an appearance at all. We notice that Matt’s bike is still locked up in the back when we make it back to the car so we stuck around for a little longer. It wasn’t long before the roadie came out, grabbed The Big Ripper and said he took off already. We finally realize this is all lies but that Skiba must not want to be bothered so he’s sending the roadie for his bike and sneaking out the front. Fair enough, a little discouraged we make our way to the car in hopes that he will show his face tomorrow night.
Thursday 5/21: Agony & Irony & From Here to Infirmary (Encore: “Warbrain”)
Thursday morning we wake up, get ready for some pool time and text Nicole and our Orlando friend to tell them its time to party. We were staying at Cabana Bay, a Lowes hotel right by Universal Studios that has a lazy river, a giant slide, two pools and a bowling alley. We never made it over to the bowling alley to play a game but we did check it out as we waited for the rain to stop that day. We spent the day in the sun which is rare for us, enjoying the lazy river, the pool and scaring the children out of the child play area with our own crude entertainment. Oops. After being disappointed that the slide was broken for the day we head for the showers to get ready for night 3.
We make it to the venue a little late but catch the last song of the opening band “Baby Baby” who were five scrawny dudes rocking out shirtless. It was an entertaining last song so I caught a bit of it on camera for you guys.
On night 3 a friend of ours who is a professional photographer made it to the show so we find him and stand on the stairs right in front of the stage. I thought this was a good spot at the time. It was definitely a great view but a couple of songs into Agony & Irony a girl pushed through the people standing behind me and spilled what smelled like a cider beer all over my left side and then stayed next to me pushing me into the railing. To say the least, I was not a happy camper but I danced my ass off in one spot anyways.
From what I’ve heard Agony & Irony is Skiba’s least favorite album to play on this tour. It’s hard for him to remember how to play it because they don’t play it much. It looked a lot like Skiba was not enjoying himself at all. He stared at the same spot above my head all night. Not really interacting with the crowd too much. This is when I started to feel a little disappointment because this was the first time I’ve seen them in such an intimate venue and they seemed like they were miserable to be there almost every night so far. I don’t think it had any thing to do with where they were. Maybe they were just exhausted. I dunno. Anyways, Agony & Irony still kicked ass and there was a group of people moshing to about every song that night, even during Dan’s slow songs. There was a little less before From Here To Infirmary started but it was all night moshing. There was a lot of crowd surfing also. There was a dude that would come over to where I was standing and jump off of the corner of the step I was on to get on top of the crowd. At one point this dude and his friend both jumped up one after the other and ended up meeting in the middle and doing some dumb handshake thing. It was pretty impressive but you know, distracting. I used to love to crowd surf when I was in high school so I don’t judge. The crowd went pretty nuts for From Here to Infirmary, I was impressed.
Our plan for night three was to leave before the encore song started in hopes that we could catch Skiba before he made his escape. So that we did, and made our way to the back of the venue to wait for Skiba. My photographer friend had a back stage pass and went up to the dressing room to say his good byes. When he came back down he said Matt seemed super exhausted and that relearning 96 songs is super exhausting because they have to practice every night even after the shows. We also heard from someone else that he was getting harassed about him playing with/ possibly joining Blink 182 and it was making him not want to come out and talk to fans. That one I did not believe. I feel like he knows his fans better than that. He knew he was going to get some shit for doing that. Alkaline Trio has way different fans than Blink 182 and Blink just isn’t very relevant anymore. They have their cult fans but they haven’t held it together for the past almost 20 years as Alkaline Trio has. Either way, Skiba don’t give any fuck’s about what people think about it. Anyways, we find out Derek booked it early that night and while we were standing out front of the venue later we see Dan leave with his family out the front door. My friend Shannon stops him to ask for a quick autograph and he signs it, but only after giving her the stink eye. Ten minutes later we see Skiba come down the stairs with The Big Ripper by the front entrance and ride away, leaving a bunch of sad little ladies and us. We still had night 4 and we were showing up super early!
Friday 5/22: Crimson & Good Mourning (Encore: “97”)
Friday morning we checked out of our hotel, got some lunch at Hamburger Marys and then headed to the venue. We camped out in the parking lot for a couple of hours before we saw Skiba bike to the back of the venue. We walk over to where he locks up his bike and waited for him to finish. Then he just grabs his lock, jumps back on his bike and takes off. We felt like assholes. Did we scare him away? Or did we just get dissed big time? We catch up with our A3 friends that we met the past few days and the Scottish girl says she stopped him just after we saw him grab his lock and leave. She finally got a picture and an autograph, she was so happy she was crying with happiness. Around 8pm Matt rolls back up on his bike. I walk over to where he is locking up his bike and say “Hey Matt.” He turns and says Hey and then continues to lock up his bike. He comes over to us after and I ask if we can get a quick autograph and a group selfie. He was super nice and signed all of our stuff for us. He noticed Shannon’s necklace and asked if he could take a picture of it. He said they’re starting a new jewelry line and her triangle necklace was a lot like a design they were thinking of. So he took a picture of her necklace, maybe even her big tits too. Who’s to know? He was super cool and after talking with us went around to the front, signed a few things and took a few pictures with the people standing in front of the venue. Success!
Before making our way into the venue I ate a weed gummy to prepare for the show. The opening band was Hide whose lead singer is Heather Gabel who if you don’t know, did most of the Alkaline Trio art. The heart skull was created by her along with tons of other album art. She had a very goth tone and was pretty entertaining to watch. We spent most of her set with our Orlando friend who was working at the bar, dancing the most goth ways we could and chugging down a beer before making our way to the floor where we were sure to get pushed around once Alkaline Trio hit the stage. After a couple of drinks I was feeling good and super excited. Night four was the best night by far. Not only because we got to meet Mr. Skiba but also because the whole energy of Matt, the rest of the band and the crowd was just amazing. Matt was smiling, moving around and genuinely looked like he was having a good time. When he first came on stage he gave the Scottish girl her book of Heather Gabel Alkaline Trio art, that I imagine he got from her earlier in the day when she stopped him. He had written all kinds of things and drew little sketches on every page of the book. What an awesome, well deserved gift for this girl who traveled thousands of miles to be there. I didn’t get to look at the book after Skiba got his hands on it, but I hope Veronica will post it for everyone to see on the Alkaline Trio Facebook fan page at some point.
All in all the Past Live tour was an amazing experience. It has definitely made its way to my top 5 concerts of all time and my favorite Alkaline Trio concert with out a doubt. An intimate venue was a great choice and it made me very happy that they chose The Social when they could have easily filled up The Beacham next door or even an amphitheater. I got a chance to thank Derek and Skiba for putting in the hard work to put on such an amazing show four days in a row. I know they must be exhausted and overwhelmed. I wish I could thank them all again. My only hope is that this doesn’t mean the end of Alkaline Trio just yet. This better not be a secret farewell tour before Skiba joins Blink 182. I don’t think he would do that to his fans. The man must just like being busy all the time having a million different side projects. If you didn’t get to catch one of the Past Live shows yourself, I hope you enjoyed me sharing my experience with you.