This past weekend I was back in my hometown in Nebraska. I had to go sift through my old bedroom at my mom’s because she is selling the house I grew up in. As I was grabbing old shirts and VHS tapes I came across artifacts of my teen angst. Mixtapes, letters from girls, letters to myself; items I stashed in the cracks of my closet. Located in a spot where only I could find them, it was like a secret message from my former self. Young Ol’ Kev knew that I would need these again one day to remind me of who I was and how I felt. More than that, I needed these things to remind me of how much has changed and how much things will continue to change. Holding on to these scraps of paper brought me comfort in a moment when I felt like I was finally letting go of my childhood. I moved out 10 years ago, I rarely went down in that old room, but knowing that I’d never be able to go back down there and lay on the floor to listen to albums until 3 am made it feel like a connection was being severed. Those boxes are now in the office of my apartment that I pay for by DJing a pop-punk night. If you stay true to your younger self change isn’t always so bad.
Few bands have stayed as true to themselves as Alkaline Trio. While their peers have gone on “hiatus,” launched acoustic americana projects, or started podcasts, Trio has continued to put out good records that don’t stray too far from what made them so beloved. The band’s recent run of show in Denver, where they will be playing their entire discography over four nights, is proof that they have no intention of slowing down. For these shows they will be playing their most recent album first then performing their oldest album second. It’s like the fad of album nostalgia shows on steroids. The first night at Summit Music Hall on Wednesday, Trio played MY SHAME IS TRUE and GODDAMMIT.
The crowd was mostly made up of aging pop-punk dudes. There was an abundance of beards, black hoodies, and bad backs milling around the venue. Matt Skiba, Dan Adriano, and Derek Grant all entered the stage to thunderous applause and they looked great. Alkaline Trio are aging better than all of the Trio tattoos in the crowd. Adriano looked especially fit; his necklace and t-shirt made him look like a yoga instructor. They opened with “She Lied to the FBI,” the first song off of MY SHAME IS TRUE. The song has an almost timeless Trio sound. The problem with Alkaline Trio is that they’re taken for granted because a lot of their sound seems so obvious, but they are so good at making incredible songs seem effortless. If I heard the songs from MY SHAME IS TRUE five hundred times like I have their early stuff I’m sure they would become favorites too. Alkaline Trio songs are like a good sitcom, the more times you experience it the more enjoyable it becomes. There is a comfort in the familiarity not unlike the box of junk that sits in my office.
As they were wrapping up MY SHAME IS TRUE I noticed that the crowd was pretty subdued. There was no pit, circle or otherwise, and everyone was conducting themselves like rock show veterans. That is until the first few chords of “Cringe.” The place exploded. Everyone started pushing. Beer flew across the air. We were all just conserving our energy, apparently. It’s not Warped Tour ‘03 anymore. “Cop” followed at full throttle and the pit grew bigger. Despite the newfound life in the crowd there was a noticeable lack of crowd surfing further proving the experience and maturity of the audience. Trio flew through GODDAMMIT like the album had just came out. Until Matt Skiba jumped the gun and started playing “Trouble Breathing” when the band was on “Southern Rock,” but considering he is playing every album this week in addition to his work as the new Tom DeLonge in Blink-182 this is completely forgivable.
They rounded out the set with Skiba leading a sing-a-long of “Sorry About That,” which transported me back to all the parking lot sing-a-longs after local punk shows when I was a kid. Once everyone got good and emotional, the band came back out and Matt Skiba said, “This song is called ‘My Friend Peter.’” The crowd went nuts and rightfully so, Trio couldn’t leave us all on such a low key note giving the audience one last chance to throw a beer in the air. Alkaline Trio put on a frenetic and fun show that seamlessly blended their newest work with their oldest. It was like a plane crash that never hit the ground. The night was a perfect walk down memory lane while continuing to looking forward.