"This is the first time we've had bras... and bullets, on stage."

Despite odd opening bands and on-stage mishaps, Alkaline Trio rocks the House of Blues harder than you could kick rocks.

Around 9:30 pm., Matt, Dan and Derek finally took the stage after hours of waiting between sets and what-the-fuck bands.

The first performance was made of up of British men playing musical instruments, while the singer literally pranced around center stage.

During one of the songs mid-performance, the singer grabs a tambourine to accompany his lackluster voice and mediocre lyrics that have been vomited across other mediocre bands of the Mediocre Era. The only thing that I liked about this performance was one of the band members accidentally kicking a mic stand and hitting a front row Alk fan in the face. I didn't see it happen as my friends did, but the kid ended up in the VIP section right below me with bandages covering his nose.

VIP? Maybe I'll slip on a beer puddle next time.

At the end of their final song, the singer's set ends and he skips-to-my-lou off stage, to let the instrumentals take over -- if only they had done that at the beginning of the show. The group might have a chance in the music industry if they axe their current vocals. The band name remains unknown to me and I don't care so much that I'm not even going to look it up.

Cursive, the second band, at least has the intriguing factor going for them. Their songs sound purposefully off-tune, but in a catchy fashion. The lighting techniques and awkward use of keyboard effects and trumpet spurts compliments the performance of songs like Mama, I'm Swollen: "I am the egg/ I am the spark/ The fire in the dark/ I am fertilized/ Fully actualized/ A loaded gun/ Born 'neath a blood red sun."

As the singer flails with his guitar under the intense red glow and screams "Beat of the blood red sun," over and over, I slowly start to feel like I'm at some kind of religious sacrifice with dying goats all around me. It's the same feeling I get when I listen to Pink Floyd and other trippy bands. They weren't bad.

Once the Trio symbol starts glowing above the empty stage, I know all is about to be right with the world. The Heart & Skull image inked on the back of my neck starts to glow, also.

Matt and Dan take the stage in their new Mickey Mouse t-shirts and Derek plops down at his home behind the drums. Skiba gives a quick "hi" into the microphone before their intro, This Addiction, starts shaking the House walls. When the first song is the new hit single, you know the encore is going to be awesome.

"So I took mushrooms and went to Disney World today," Skiba blurts into the microphone before the next song. "Disney World is awesome on shrooms. They haven't quite worn off yet, so if it seems like I'm on shrooms, it's cuz I am. This songs called Armageddon."

The 21-song set-list was an almost perfect mix of older tunes with the new, shiny ones. They played songs from From Here to Infirmary, Good Mourning and my personal favorite, God Damnit. Thankfully, they only played one song each from Agony & Irony and Crimson (my two least favorite albums), but they were the tracks that I liked the most from those CDs.

In one of the Trio's new songs, Lead Poisoning, they have a short horn section in the middle of the track, which is a route they've never taken before. The always-grim lyrics mixed with a new upbeat instrument was definitely one of the highlighted tid-bits of the new album. I just hope they don't go overboard with it.

As my friend Adam storms out of the venue to smoke a cigarette, the trumpet player from Cursive waddles out to the front mic to play the 30-second horn section of the song. Some fans are offended because this short alteration does not make them a trio.

My friend Amber and I decide to skank in support.

During In Vein, a plaid-shirted Alk fan somehow avoids all HOB security and finagles his way on stage. He runs in between Matt and Dan, points at the screaming crowd and dives in. An assembly line of orange guards rush to the front as the kid escapes into a sea of tattooed limbs and crowd surfers.

Matt starts laughing when the song ends. "I'm proud of you," he proclaims to the anonymous stage diver. "I feel like I just gave birth to an illegitimate son; I dedicate this next song to you. It's called Fuck You Aurora." I laugh when Skiba sings, "the cutest stage diver I've ever seen" instead of the cutest grave digger.

The gig continues with Mourning melodies like 100 Stories and Continental and Skiba finds stray ammunition on stage. "Hey, whoever lost your .45 caliber bullet, don't worry," he said. He tucks it in his left pocket. "It's right here."

"This is the first time we've ever had bras. . . and bullets on stage," he said.

They go on with Nose Over Tail and I can't help but play every chord on my imaginary strings against the wood railing in front of me. Nose Over Tail and Cringe are the first fast-paced songs I ever learned to play on my Fender Squier. I've yet to hear Cringe played in front of me.

However, I finally got to hear Skiba's love song about pot, 97, played live.

They exit the stage as if we don't know there's going to be an amazing encore. After minutes of drunken fans screaming for one more song, they come back and switch positions. Skibas now on drums, Andriano on guitar and Grant is on bass.

They open with one of Andriano's tunes from the new CD, Fine, and I still get chills when he sings "aces in a... Deck." They follow it up with a cover of the Misfits's Angelfuck, with Derek on vocals. It was cool to see him step out from behind the drum set and take the lead.

They switch back to their normal spots and move on to Blue in the Face.

For the final hoorah, they woo the fans with My Friend Peter and go out with a bang. I go apeshit, because this is one of the songs I obsess over and play repeatedly in my living room when nobody is home. It's the first song I ever learned how to sing and play at the same time.

"I need a beer to wash it all away without a trace. And I'll drink 23 more to wipe this stupid smile off my fucking face."

Set list

1. This Addiction
2. Armageddon
3. Dine, Dine My Darling
4. Mr. Chainsaw
5. Lead Poisoning
6. We've Had Enough
7. Dead on the Floor
8. Fatally Yours
9. Crawl
10. In Vein
11. Fuck You Aurora
12. Another Innocent Girl
13. Continental
14. 100 Stories
15. Sadie
16. Nose Over Tail
17. 97


Misfits cover of Angelfuck
Blue in the Face
My Friend Peter