Concert review: Alkaline Trio w/ Drug Church | 03.17.24, The Pageant (with photo gallery)

Photo of Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio by Jen Ruff

I don’t remember where or when I first heard of Alkaline Trio but I do remember what sealed them in my memory: “The Metro,” their cover of Berlin’s Billboard Hot 100 hit of 1983. I don’t know what it was either. Why this song? And until just prior to the show, I’d never heard Berlin’s version. But no matter what, when I think of Chicago, I think of Fall Out Boy and I think of Alkaline Trio. Through my legendary employ at Vintage Vinyl, I’d be exposed to their music and merch quite frequently and many musicians that I love reference them as a huge inspiration. They’ve always been a band that in my mind I knew was legendary to legends and friends, but I’d be lying if I said my knowledge went far beyond those limits.

I watched the openers Drug Church—who are from Albany, New York—absolutely bring the punk/hardcore, fresh off a stint in the Windy City the night before. Vocalist Patrick Kindlon noted that earlier in the day he’d had Frito pie so he lacked the energy to keep up with the STL crowd, but I felt showmanship and energy from the set start to finish. Shortly before they ended their set with massive crowd favorites “Million Miles of Fun” and “Weed Pin,” Kindlon noted that they’d played for bands that have filled venues for a night or a month or a year but rarely for one to fill venues for over 30 years—which might have gotten the loudest period of cheers of the night. They knew they’d set the tone and gave the crowd some warm up.

Blood, Hair and Eyeballs is Alkaline Trio’s latest release, and one that came with so many changes to what their live show had been like those three decades prior. Our world is measured by the global pandemic these days, and that affected music in so many ways that no band has gone unaffected. In 2020, Alkaline Trio were set to tour with Bad Religion and we all know then “IT” happened and almost every band was all but absent from making waves much. Alkaline Trio had the extra growing pains of having to find a new drummer following the departure last year of Derek Grant after more than two decades with the band. Enter Atom Willard, longtime drummer in bands ranging from Rocket from the Crypt to Angels & Airwaves to Against Me.

The first bit of the set wound up being “Bleeder,” “Private Eye,” and “Take Lots with Alcohol,” which felt like encore-worthy energy but there was much more in store for every fan from every time period of the band including from the new (and tenth) studio album. Vocalist and guitarist Matt Skiba looked stoked to be back fronting Alkaline Trio after so much time lent to working with Blink-182. Rejoining bassist and vocalist Dan Andriano and teaming up again with Willard (who was a previous touring member of the band prior to Grant’s arrival) must feel good. I think the time bands had during the pandemic respite has really lent to some very creative and amazing music. Maybe, every now and then, a break isn’t so bad. Speaking of bad—“Bad Time” and “Radio” closed out the jam-packed Pageant show on this St. Patrick’s Day evening. No “The Metro” for me, but I definitely have a newfound love and appreciation for one of the greats and can’t wait to do a deeper dive to my favorites of this absolute legendary trio. | Diane Ruff

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