In these desperate strange times, you have to take your rock and roll where you can find it.

Paul Wong

From semi-reformed metal geeks pretending to be pop-punk arena overlords. From pseudo siblings posing as a candy-striped Lo-fi Zeppelin. From prep-school brats masquerading as dangerous downtown ’70s proto-punk hipsters.

And now in our dire time of need, the mighty hype machines that be are telling us Rock’s latest saviors are a Swedish garage band from the remote Steel town of Fagersta, who like to play violently kinetic rock that screeches like Raw Power-era Stooges while wearing matching ties and ascots.

Strange days indeed.

And so enter Hives, allegedly founded way back in ’93 by the mysterious Randy Fiztsimmons, who recruited five local Fagersta teenagers via letter to form his own twisted boy band. Supposedly, he steered the boys who become the Hives through their early years, crafting their distinctive blend of gritty ’60s garage with ’70s punk attitude and always identical ’80s new wave fashion sense and helping them build a budding reputation through continental Europe.

To this day, Fiztsimmons acts as a shadowy satellite Brian Wilson-esque stay-at-home song writer/leader for his crew. Perhaps it was Randy who also handed out the strange stage names too. We’ve heartthrob frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almquvist, his real life brother, guitarist Nicholaus Arson, guitarist Chris Dangerous, Vigilante Carlstroem on drums and my personal favorite, tiny bassist/Mario Brother look-alike, Dr. Matt Destruction (Brit music bible NME has conversely reported that Fitzsimmons was real and then just a character made up by Nicholaus, the band’s real genius. We have no clue).

The Hives’ 2000 sophomore LP, Veni Vidi Vicious was originally released stateside by Epitaph, but has just now been re-released for wide distribution by Reprise, maybe to take advantage of favorable media comparisons to the Strokes and the White Stripes. Well sure, all three bands share a distinct retro-feel and a definite back-to-the-garage ethic, but there’s plenty of respect to go around and no one group should be overshadowing the others.

So listen for their neo-garage anthems “Hate to Say I Told You So” and “Main Offender” on more progressive radio stations or their ultra-cool “Handpicked” videos on MTV2, or if you listen really, really closely inexplicably but appropriately at Red Wing playoff games. The NHL does have its share of Swedes these days I guess and maybe since Swedes been good for the Wings, they’ll be good for Rock too.

But of course, what’s suppose to really sets the Hives are apart is their live show. Their short, fiercely explosive live sets have had the chronically over-enthusiastic British music press going wild for months. Pelle struts and kicks his way across the stage with all the hip-shaking bravo of a young Iggy or Mick while the band blasts and thrashes its way through instant classics like “Die, All Right” and “The Hives are Law, You are Crime”.

The Hives like to make big claims. The title for a recent compilation was Your New Favorite Band and their t-shirts read ‘Nulla Salus Sine The Hive’ (Latin for ‘No Salvation Without the Hives’). Where does the hype end and the legend begin? The only way to know is to come out to the Magic Stick Thursday to find out.

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