By Jacqueline Howell

The Hives bring a full-on Rock and Roll show to TURF’s main stage on day one, Friday, that is big enough and strong enough to rival any stage at any time slot anywhere on the globe. They should be after being in the game since 1989. Their sound, attitude and look has been so emulated and ripped off over the years (particularly in the post-2000s) that having the original before us sounds and seems like something fresh & brand new again. They’ve long been famed as one of the best live acts in rock music.

Today, they are decked out in their finest two-tone suits in the strong afternoon sun at Fort York.

But as front man Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist says early on in the set “there are rock and roll bands that can only play in the sun. There are bands that can only play at night time. And then there are bands that can play, indifferent to outsideĀ conditions!” And we’re off.

At TURF, the line up, while broad and capably drawing from bands local, national, and international, is decidedly geared to a slightly more mature demographic. It is, after all, an Urban Roots Festival. There are a lot of men with guitars (and some women) and not exactly an overabundance of stage diving, posturing and real showmanship. An acoustic guitar just doesn’t much allow for that kind of performance. So The Hives are a true breath of fresh air this weekend. They are so much fun, so interesting, so good and so quotable.

They’ve also got their roadies/techs dressed as a black and a white ninja, respectively.

Quotes from Almqvist (there were many more then these selections, go see this band at your earliest opportunity):

“We have taken this fort. We’ve played five songs. Four and then one as kings of this fort.”

“The smartest people in Toronto…and quite possibly, the most self-employed or unemployed people in Toronto are here.”

From Toronto, The Hives went directly to Chicago for Riot Fest the next day.

The Hives 17-song set list included songs from across their catalogue starting with “Come On!”, “Try It Again” and “Hate to Say I Told You So” and ending with a two song encore of “Won’t Be Long” and “Tick Tick Boom”.